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Manatee County government keeps video footage from security cameras for 30 days

David Thompson, building services division manager, talks about security cameras with the Manatee County Commission during a work session Thursday morning.
David Thompson, building services division manager, talks about security cameras with the Manatee County Commission during a work session Thursday morning. caronson@bradenton.com

MANATEE -- As Manatee County continues to invest in new security cameras being installed in its government buildings, it isn't expanding its capacity to store the images which will be kept on file for the state required 30-day minimum.

During a work session Tuesday, the county commission discussed the existing camera system including camera locations and whether storing digital images for 30 days is long enough. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office has 660 cameras at various buildings and the county has an additional 285 cameras in other buildings.

County Attorney Mickey Palmer said he understands 30 days meets the state standard but so would 60 days or even a year.

"I would be curious to see the cost differentials," Palmer said. "Thirty days that's an awfully short time frame."

Charlie Bishop, property management department director, said over the years there have been a couple of incidents where the recording was needed after it was already deleted. At the end of the 30 days, the system overwrites itself, according to county staff.

Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said they should look at the costs for keeping the footage longer.

"If we take a chance on perhaps not having it, it is kind of moot," Baugh said. "Why have it in the first place?"

If the county elects to deviate from the baseline requirement, Karen Windon, deputy county administrator, said for certain opera

tions, they may want to look at longer storage but for the day-to-day operations, it may not be necessary.

"I think we should be very strategic about how we do that," she said.

In order to maintain each camera, it costs $574 per year, a total of $542,430 for all 945 installed cameras. But with the additional cameras planned for the new transit fleet services building, Central Energy Plant and other utility buildings, the total increases to $638,886.

David Thompson, building services division manager, said while they haven't hit those costs yet, they will need to replace cameras and the storage system at some point.

"These haven't hit us yet," he said.

Bishop said they are finding ways to maintain the cameras.

"We have been maintaining the cameras through our operating budget," he said. "These systems are getting older."

Commission Chairwoman Betsy Benac said they are going to be in a continuous budget discussion for the next year.

"We are going to do the budget hopefully a little bit different than we have done in the past," she said.

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.

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