There were a lot of key developments in the Freddie Gray case this week as charges were levied against all six officers involved. Another key development that came to light was the role of private surveillance video in revealing a previously undisclosed van stop, which raised suspicion among authorities.
This is not the first time that private surveillance video has played a role in a very public investigation, nor will it be the last. For example, in the Boston Marathon bombing, private surveillance video was also essential to identifying the bombers. But like the Freddie Gray case, investigators literally had to knock on doors to find it and obtain it.
As we move into a more connected world and more recorded world, making it easier for investigators to access – and for the public to contribute – video, photos and other media will be paramount to effective investigations. While there are genuine concerns over civil liberties, the fact that the video in the Freddie Gray case contained a previously undocumented stop shows that surveillance video can help pave a path to justice.
Today, finding the essential video is often a haphazard, staff-intensive collection and analysis process. It’s clear that as the amount of content and the number of sources grow, we need to move to a more effective system, with clear rules of access and control, that enables the right and most effective use of information available.