Austin Police Launch Program to Monitor Private Security Cameras

APD says the video feeds would not be recorded and it would only tap into the commercial security camera systems in response to a call for service.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Police Department (APD) is launching a new program that allows businesses to register their security cameras and allow police access to video feeds.

The Downtown Austin Alliance recently hosted a safety forum and invited property managers, hotel directors, business and private security managers to hear APD explain how the program will work, kxan.com reports.

“Due to the officer shortage, we can’t be everywhere,” but that a larger network of cameras will fill some of those gaps, APD Commander Jennifer Stephenson told KXAN.

The first goal is to get as many businesses to register with APD as possible so in the event of an emergency, police know where they can go to request to look at surveillance footage. Another option would allow APD to pull up a live feed from private surveillance cameras as an incident is happening.

“They would only be tapping in if they hear of an event or something that is going on and would be looking at it as a live feed, it’s not recorded,” Stephenson said. Terms of the program will be addressed a Memorandum of Understanding, she continued.

A site survey will be involved to set up live feed systems, which will come at a cost that varies business to business.

During the forum, Austin police said its 41 HALO (High Activity Location Observation) cameras have been used to initiate and assist in more than 820 calls for service. Private cameras would enhance their network of visibility, especially downtown, according to the report.

APD modeled its program after the one in Washington, D.C., which allows businesses or individuals to register their camera with the department, granting officers the ability to monitor the camera from a centralized location. The program in D.C. added access to nearly 1,000 new cameras in a matter of months, KXAN reported.

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