A Contentious Tactic
For a police department (and perhaps the government at large), having eyes on every street corner, alley, porch, and backyard sounds wonderful, but has been quite impractical to bring to fruition. After all, buying, installing, and maintaining such a surveillance network is an unwieldy and costly task for any municipal government to perform. However, with crime being a growing concern among voters in the year 2023 and with more than 1 in 4 Americans owning a security system, police departments are now beginning to tap into personal home security feeds to ostensibly fight and investigate crimes.
Security tech companies like Fusus offer cameras that connect to a cloud-based interface that police can use to monitor privately-owned security units and view a live feed. Fusus claims that they are capable of streaming camera feeds from nearly any private or public source, including body cameras and Ring cameras. Cities with pervasive crime like Atlanta have pushed communities to engage with the Fusus network, to much success. Within one year, the Atlanta police department was able to grow their private camera network from around 9,000 to nearly 37,000.
Some Benefits, But Also…
Police departments have realized that these private security cameras can be valuable tools in solving crimes. They have started to create partnerships with businesses and homeowners, requesting access to their security footage. In some cases, they may ask for access to live feeds from the cameras. This has resulted in an increase in the number of arrests and convictions in some communities.
However, the use of private security cameras by police also raises concerns about privacy. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of police accessing their personal security footage without their knowledge or consent. This raises questions about whether this is an invasion of privacy. People may feel that their private lives are being monitored, and they may alter their behavior as a result.
Moreover, there are concerns about the potential for abuse of this practice. There is no guarantee that the police will use the footage ethically or within the bounds of the law. There are concerns that the police could use the footage to target individuals or groups unfairly. Furthermore, there is a risk that the police could misuse the footage to monitor peaceful protests or political activities.
There is also a lack of transparency and oversight in this practice. There are no clear guidelines or regulations governing how police departments can access private security footage. This lack of oversight means that there is no accountability for how police departments use this footage.
Perhaps hijacking private security cameras as part of a safety initiative is too Orwellian for certain communities. But on the other hand, if private entities are willingly offering police departments access to their footage, there could be a certain compromise at hand that benefits both parties. The private citizen is offered some kind of incentive by feeling his community is safer and can be proud for proactively aiding the police, and the government gets access to live camera streams in areas where they might not have the resources to be. In a world that appears to be growing more chaotic, perhaps some drastic measures do need to be taken in order for a more efficient and effective police presence to take place. Although, for some, there is no cause too great to sacrifice fundamental rights such as personal privacy in your own home.