As body camera programs sweep through police forces, big costs loom in storing video footage

The rush to outfit police officers with body cameras after last summer's unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, threatens to saddle local governments with steep costs for managing the volumes of footage they must keep for months or even years.

The storage expenses — running into the millions of dollars in some cities — often go overlooked in the debates over using cameras as a way to hold officers accountable and improve community relations.

But they can be significant, and may force some police chiefs to choose between paying officers on the street or yearly video storage fees.

Some cities have obtained the cameras at deep discounts when they ink data-management deals that are far more lucrative in the long run for device manufacturers.