The Atlanta Police Department has lost years worth of police car dashcam videos following the March ransomware attack that affected most of the city's IT infrastructure.
In an exclusive interview with the Atlanta Journal last week, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said dashcam footage "is lost and cannot be recovered."
Chief Shields said footage from body-worn cameras was not compromised in the cyber-attack that crippled Atlanta city IT systems for almost two months, but only videos recorded by police car dashcams.
The normal train of thought is that the loss of the dashcam data could affect some DUI investigations, but Chief Shields downplayed the importance of the dashcam footage in pursuing DUI charges.
"I'm not overly concerned. I'm really not," she told reporters. "The dashcam doesn’t make the cases for us. There’s got to be the corroborating testimony of the officer. There will be other pieces of evidence. It’s not something that makes or breaks cases for us."
Nonetheless, cases could still be affected if the defendant's lawyer finds questionable details in the officer testimony that under normal circumstances would have been corroborated by audio and video evidence. Cases investigating violent acts or road crashes are also up in the air.
Nevertheless, the Atlanta Police Department can count itself lucky. Chief Shields said that in the immediate aftermath of the ransomware incident, the department had limited access to investigative files that were stored on its server. The files and access to the server were later restored, and the evidence is now safe.
The Atlanta Police Department was lucky when compared to the police departments in Riverside, Ohio and Cockrell Hill, Texas, which lost evidence going back for months and years, respectively, in similar ransomware incidents.
The now infamous Atlanta ransomware incident, caused by the SamSam ransomware strain, took place on March 22, this year.
The incident blocked access to many city bills payment sites, its judiciary and public records system, and impacted in various ways almost all city-run departments, except the 911 emergency system.
On May 18, almost two months after the incident, city officials announced they've managed to restore all affected systems. Initially, it was reported that the city of Atlanta paid over $2.7 million to restore files and rebuild affected systems, but that number was later updated to a figure over $5 million.