Baltimore Seeks to Add Private Security Cameras to Growing Surveillance Program

BALTIMORE — In its plans to expand the CitiWatch surveillance program, this city intends to build a database that will make it easier for businesses to give the Police Department access to their private security cameras.

The city of Baltimore currently owns 583 security cameras and has access to more than 250 video feeds from various businesses, reports the Baltimore Sun. With the new database, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) can build on its current arrangement it has with large organizations such as Johns Hopkins Hospital, by reaching out to smaller, mom and pop stores. The city will build the database and pay for outreach to businesses using a $53,000 grant from the Abell Foundation.

Businesses are not required to take part in the new program, called CitiWatch Community Partnership. Police will only look at footage from the expanded private system after they have received an alert of crime in the area.

The CitiWatch surveillance program started in 2004 with a goal of reducing violent crimes in the area. A group of retired and off-duty police officers monitors the system, which costs roughly $1.4 million annually to operate.

In 2011, city surveillance assisted in the arrests of 1,236 suspects. Of those arrests, 145 were violent crimes, including robberies and assaults.

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