Police in Beaverton (Ore.) have launched a security camera registration initiative here in an effort to fight crime, including acts of terrorism.
“Surveillance video is huge,” Beaverton Police Officer Jeremy Shaw told KATU News about the potential for surveillance video to help solve crimes and find suspects. “I mean it puts those people at that location.”
The program in Beaverton, which is similar to other efforts in several cities throughout the United States, has drawn potential concerns of civil rights watchers, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Sarah Amstrong, a spokesperson for ACLU of Oregon, told KATU the program is not a threat to privacy so long as its remains voluntary.
“You can see that having access to live feeds of private cameras would be way too easy for police to abuse,” Armstrong said. “Unless there’s evidence of criminal activity police aren’t allowed to surveil innocent Oregonians, especially when it comes to monitoring their religious affiliations, their social affiliations and their political leanings.”
Shaw, however, said Beaverton police aren’t able to look at live video feeds in people’s homes and businesses right now due to technological limitations. And he said legal procedures would be followed before they would do so.
Shaw said knowing who has surveillance footage of a suspect or a crime can be difficult to determine. Officers often have to go door to door to see who may have the images they need. To help save time, in May, Beaverton police launched the new program asking citizens to voluntarily register their surveillance cameras.
“What that will do is allow us when we look on our internal system we can see dots on a map and where all those video cameras might be,” Shaw said.