Changes to Alabama Law Enforcement Records Retention Policy
In Alabama, law enforcement personnel are not required in all circumstances to record or document by audio or video their interactions with the public; however, if a law enforcement officer does create a video or audio recording that documents an interaction between an officer and the public, the officer is required to maintain the recording. The sources of any such recording may include in-dash cameras, body cameras, surveillance cameras, and audio recordings (without video).
As of October 21, 2015, if any video or audio recording becomes part of a law enforcement case file, an officer must retain the recording until the case has reached its final disposition. On the other hand, if the encounter that was recorded does not result in or become a part of a law enforcement case file, then the officer only has to retain the recording for six (6) months.
This change in law enforcement record retention policy may affect claims investigations and litigation strategy. Since the statute of limitations pertaining to personal injury and wrongful death claims is two (2) years, and for claims involving contracts and property damage is six (6) years, it is possible that any evidence recorded by law enforcement may have been disposed of long before a claimant files suit on a claim.