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Glades Detention Center accused of destroying video evidence

Glades County Sheriff's Office

On Monday, January 24, two civil rights organizations filed a complaint against Glades Detention Center that it is illegally destroying video footage that could substantiate reports of abuse of migrants being held there. Glades currently serves as a detention center for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. ICE contractually requires its detention centers to maintain video surveillance footage for three years.

One of the complainant groups is the ACLU of Florida, which has evidence, it says, that the detention center is destroying video footage after 90 days. Katie Blankenship, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida, describes an email between the two organizations.

“That email is between ICE and the Glades County Sheriff's Office, wherein ICE provides notice to the Glades County Sheriff's Office per the contract and federal requirements, that they have to maintain records for three years, which would include their video surveillance," said Blankenship. "The Glades County Sheriff’s Office responds…declining to do that, they were not going to do that. To summarize, said ‘We only keep video for 90 days and to make that change would cost us $500,00,’ and they just declined to do so.” 

The video footage is part of an ongoing investigation into alleged abusive conditions for immigrant detainees at Glades and may contain critical evidence, aside from being contractually required by ICE.

Reached by phone, Chief Deputy Duane Potorff of the Glades County Sheriff’s Office maintains that they are following protocol.

“We keep our video to the State of Florida’s standards," said Potorff. "We are not mandated to keep it to federal government standards.”

WGCU asked, “And by that you mean the ICE requirement of three years?”

“Correct,” said Potorff.

WGCU clarified: “So you are not subject to that requirement although you’re an ICE detention center?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Potorff said.

ICE Spokesman Nestor Yglesias responded to a request for comment via email, saying “the matter is currently being looked into.”

The ACLU of Florida says that Glades County Sheriff’s Office has 45 days from Monday’s complaint to adjust their video retention policy.