A video cover-up at the U. of Maryland?

April 21, 2010

When a university can't come up with the footage for the one particular camera that would have captured the incident of a student's beating by police, people get suspicious and there's a certain odor to the whole thing. But when, just hours later, the campus security and police department just happens to find the disc that has that has camera footage but it is missing two minutes of the video footage, that's when the odor really starts to build. And when it turns out the officer in charge of the archives for the campus video surveillance system is married to one of the officers charged in the beating of that student, well, things start to smell a little like a cover-up.

I can't make this stuff up! Read this article from News Channel 8 (News8.net) if you want more details (or watch the video below). There are no details yet as to whether that two minutes of missing footage was even relevant to the beating case, but the entire process -- especially the fact that the university conveniently "couldn't find" the video until a local TV station threatened an expose -- smells a lot like impropriety.

One thing is certain: The University of Maryland is no newcomer to campus video surveillance. The campus has had a strong video surveillance camera presence since the mid-1990s and has over 500 cameras in use today. It's no slouch in terms of research into video surveillance either. In 2006, one of the university's professors, Dr. Rama Chellappa, was credited for developing a cutting-edge video content analysis and automated monitoring system. The system not only offered facial recognition, but it could also study the gait of people caught on camera, such that the system could tell whether a person was carrying a hidden package just by analyzing how they walked.

But this is a university that couldn't find the particular CD of video footage that might show a beating?


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