Vancouver police directed the public to upload to YouTube – violating standard operating procedures

Did police mishandle the riot evidence?

As stated in the 2002 Major Case Management Manual by the Canadian Police College, the swift identification of a suspect or witness through video can make an important difference in all criminal investigations. Several very high-profile investigations have relied on video evidence, including the 1994 Stanley Cup riot. The Forensic Video Unit was officially created in 1998, after the investigation surrounding the 1994 Stanley Cup riot highlighted the value of and the need for forensic video analysis.

Argument 1: YouTube videos excluded from police riot evidence

After reviewing the VPD Forensic Video Audit Report, you will notice that police didn’t provide proper instructions to the public in handling of the riot evidence, making thousands of YouTube videos and photos useless. It also nullifies thousands of hours of work by crowdsourced Facebook suspect identifications sites.

Police have revised their instructions 2 months after the fact in their new website. “IRIT  is interested in obtaining your original photo and video files”.  Why did VPD direct citizens to upload to YouTube? In their press release from June 20, 2011, VPD advised the public of the details of social media evidence they were reviewing. One of their latest press releases, dated August 17, 2011, discusses 1600 hours of footage to be analyzed in the U.S.  Are the 676 publicly uploaded YouTube videos part of that 1600 hours of video?

Argument 2: YouTube videos violate VPD standard operating procedures

If you compare the VPD’s Forensic Video Audit Report‘s recommended for handling video evidence with their first instructions to the public, you may be left asking yourself if the evidence was mishandled.

List of recommendations found in the Forensic Video Audit Report:

  • Maintain a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual
  • Record an audit trail
  • Triage video analysis requests
  • Store video exhibits in a secure location
  • Use suitable equipment
  • Implement a quality assurance program
  • Preserve the master evidence
  • Protect video exhibits using write-protect mechanism
  • Validate date and time information
  • Prepare a business continuity plan
  • Confirm the integrity of digital video recordings
  • Correct the aspect ratio of digital video recordings


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