Alabama police collecting information on private security cameras

Published 9:35 pm Sunday, April 3, 2022

A north Alabama police department is building a database of private security cameras to help investigators know where to look for evidence after a crime is committed.

Property owners can volunteer for the Athens Police Department project, which is modeled after but not identical to one in Auburn, the Decatur Daily reported.

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

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

“If we have a problem in an area, we can pull that database up and say, this is where we know we’ve got cameras. They’re facing the street, they’re facing the backyard, they’re facing the alleyway, they’re facing an intersection,” Johnson said.

Police will contact a resident or business owner should they need to see video, he said. Officers would ask the person to check their cameras during the time the crime took place to see if any suspicious images were captured.

The department isn’t seeking confidential information about the camera systems, Johnson said.

“We’re not asking to know anything about their system except basically what kind it is. We don’t want their passwords, we don’t want remote access to it,” Johnson said. “This is strictly volunteer, private.”

Athens police initiated the idea a couple of months ago after discovering 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 asking for remote access to cameras.

“People don’t like the government looking over their shoulder, nor do we want to,” Fussell said. “It’s whatever they’re willing and able to share with us.”