State lawmakers want to restrict how long governmental surveillance can be kept on citizens

Bill proposal would require limits on recordings

DENVER - Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol want to send "Big Brother" to his room.

Legislation being proposed would require government entities to purge their surveillance video and images within six months of the recording.

According to the bill's sponsor, State Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Roxborough Park, this is in direct response to surveillance concerns at the federal level.

"It has really been brought to our attention with the NSA and their surveillance techniques and their data collection on everyone across the United States," said Lawrence. "I don't think the government should be surveilling its citizens and retaining that information indefinitely."

Government surveillance can include security cameras at state or local buildings, H.A.L.O. cameras, photo red light, photo radar and toll collection devices.

Her proposal is to make sure government entities are not keeping tabs on citizens unnecessarily.

"If we hadn't had that in Boston, we wouldn't have found the Boston bombers, but do we need to let the government retain that information indefinitely," said Lawrence.

"Surveillance helped protect me in a significant way. My life would be very different without the vindication of that video," said Shawn Johnson.

A downtown H.A.L.O. camera captured Denver police beating Johnson and his friend, Michael DeHerrera, in April 2009.

"The surveillance helped our case significantly. It changed the narrative, it gave us a voice," said Johnson.

Denver Police saved the video as part of the investigation. Denver Police policy is to purge H.A.L.O. recordings after 30 days, unless the recording is needed for an investigation, criminal or civil case.

RTD told 7NEWS that its surveillance recordings are kept for 15 days before they're recorded over, unless they're needed for an investigation.

The bill has not been heard in its first committee yet. Lawrence has already modified it once and may change it again to limit recordings to one year, instead of six months.