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Colorado bill trying to limit availability of government surveillance data

Surveillance data limit in Colorado bill

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado lawmakers are trying to put a one year time limit on how long government agencies can keep surveillance data. That data includes downtown security cameras and license plate readers on police cars.

A watchful eye is looking over downtown Colorado Springs.

"There's crime happening and it's going to happen," said Mountain Chalet Manager Matt Chmielarczyk.

State lawmakers don't want that surveillance video to stick around for too long.

"Make sure it's only being retained for good cause and for reasons of civil or criminal investigations," said Republican Representative Polly Lawrence.

The bill puts a one year time limit on any surveillance data with a government agency.

"It actually makes some of the departments focus their efforts. And why would they retain information on people that they don't need to retain it?" she said.

But there is one exception to the bill: If video or image data is going to be used as evidence in a court case, it can be saved for more than a year. Lawmakers are working on making amendments to allow for other extensions.

"It is nice to be able to go back and look is there any historical data that might be utilized or helpful in a particular investigation?" said El Paso County Sheriff's Office Lt. Jeff Kramer.

Colorado Springs Police and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office also use cameras to read license plates and they say they're a great tool.

"It is very valuable to utilize technology in this way and allows us to solve crimes that perhaps without the system would've gone unsolved at least for a period of time," said Lt. Kramer.

Police say those cameras have helped them make 12 felony drug arrests and they've caught shots fired, but downtown businesses aren't sold on whether they're doing their job.

"We have an alley way entrance into our shop for employees. And I guarantee that on any given day there's somebody shooting up in the alleyway or selling drugs or selling stolen goods," said Chmielarczyk with Mountain Chalet.

The bill is in the judiciary committee right now. If it passes, the bill will next go to the house.

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