Alabama police collect data from private security cameras

A North Alabama police department is creating a database of private security cameras to help investigators know where to look for evidence after a crime has been committed.

Homeowners can volunteer for the Athens Police Department’s project, which is modeled after but not identical to Auburn’s, the Decatur Daily reported.

Rather than connecting law enforcement surveillance equipment directly to private locations, police are compiling a list of cameras in homes and other private locations.

Police Chief Floyd Johnson said several residents and businesses have signed up since the department recently unveiled the program.

“If we have a problem in an area, we can go to that database and say, that’s where we know we have cameras. They face the street, they face the backyard, they face the alley, they face an intersection,” Johnson said.

Police will contact a resident or business owner if they need to see video, he said. Officers would ask the person to check their cameras while the crime was taking place to see if any suspicious footage was captured.

The department is not looking for confidential information about camera systems, Johnson said.

“We don’t ask about their system, except basically what type it is. We don’t want their passwords, we don’t want remote access,” Johnson said. “It’s strictly voluntary, private.”

Athens police floated the idea a few months ago after discovering that the Auburn Police Department had something similar. Detective Kelly Fussell researched the Auburn program and came up with a model for Athens. The biggest difference between the Auburn and Athens programs, Fussell said, is that Auburn police were requesting remote access to the cameras.

“People don’t like government looking over their shoulder, and neither do we,” Fussell said. “That’s all they want and can share with us.”

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