Police in San Jose, California believe that viewing home security footage will help them solve crimes. The proposal for homeowners to voluntarily register their security cameras for a new police department database is the creation of councilman Sam Liccardo. The idea is to view the footage promptly after a crime.
Liccardo revealed the proposal following a rash of arsons. Property owners willingly gave their home security videos to the police to help identify the arsonist, who has burned down a dozen buildings.
The new database would be managed by pre-existing city technology employees, making the cost nominal.
Homeowners would simply sign up for the database. Police could then remotely gain access into the cameras’ feeds. However, older models would need to be turned in for their tapes.
The issue of privacy concerns has been reared, even though the plan would be based on voluntary actions—which actually doesn’t make sense, since nobody would be forced or even pressured to give up their home footage.
Retired judge LaDoris Cordell says that the database plan is simply an extension of the evolution of surveillance technology, rather than an intrusion of privacy, a way for residents to be abreast of the happenings in their neighborhood.
San Jose wouldn’t be the first to launch such an initiative. Nearly 600 businesses and residents in Philadelphia have signed up with a similar program, which has led to 200 arrests based on video footage.
Liccardo will be facing a “Big Brother” obstacle as he attempts to get his plan approved, but says that the police will not be sitting around watching live feeds for kicks.
There have been no adverse responses to a similar program with the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno police department, in which 30 property owners have signed up.