Fargo Police Want Citizens To Give Them Voluntary Access To Their Video Streams

The Fargo Police Department has launched a voluntary program whereby they’re requesting that citizens give them access to their video feeds in exchange for a sticker:

FARGO – If you’ve got a video camera, police want to take a peek. A new program unveiled Tuesday allows residents and business owners here to give police access to their video cameras. Police say they’d like to use the footage to solve and deter crime. …

The program, called SafeCam, “helps citizens be proactive in protecting their homes,” said Officer Jessica Schindeldecker.

Those who register their cameras will receive a Police Department sticker, intended to deter crime, which they can place in their window, she said.

The request comes as Fargo law enforcement begins using a new online feature called CrimeReports.com which will allow citizens to access a database of some of the crimes happening around them. “The data posted online does not include general calls for service, traffic incidents, police activity where no crime report was taken, and most sexual assaults, crimes against children, domestic violence cases, narcotics cases and medical calls,” reports the Forum.

But still, transparency is a good thing, and I like the idea of citizens being able to easily access this information.

Still, the camera feed thing is kind of weird. I’m not sure why police need access to private video streams, or why the public should grant them that access.

Security cameras are generally an after-the-fact tool for solving crimes. Few, if any, of these video streams are being actively monitored. Rather, their value is in establishing what happened after the fact. As such, the current system where police request footage from cameras in the area of an incident (or obtain it through a properly issued warrant) seems sufficient to me.

I really don’t want to go down the road where police have this sort of access. I mean, today they’re asking for it. How long until it’s a requirement?

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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