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New Bill Would Limit How Long Government Keeps Surveillance Video

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DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado lawmakers are behind an effort to set restrictions on how long the government can keep surveillance footage.

A license plate reader helped authorities track down Marc O’Leary, a serial rapist linked to attacks in four Colorado cities and three states.

“So having that information to protect the victims of crimes and be able identify suspects is extremely vital to law enforcement,” said Cmdr. Todd Reeves, a police officer from Westminster.

Reeves went before lawmakers to make a case for the retention of government surveillance as they considered a bill that would, for the first time, put statutory limits on it.

“The fact that we have the government surveilling its citizens and retaining that footage for indefinite periods of time in some cases raises issues of personal liberty and security,” said Rep. Polly Lawrence.

The bill would require all government surveillance in Colorado, including toll and red light cameras, be destroyed after three years unless it is being used in an active investigation.

Three years is the statute of limitations in most felony cases but in sexual assault cases it can be up to 10 years.

“I think that having more regulations around how information is used rather than the time period it is used is probably a more adequate response,” said Garner.

According to Lawrence the state has to start somewhere, and at the state capitol alone there are nearly 300 cameras.

“As technology advances we as a state and we as a body are going to have to grapple with this issue,” said Lawrence.

The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee unanimously.

It would only apply to government surveillance video, not video from stores and businesses.

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