Public Cameras Yet To Translate To Real-Time Intelligence For Security

Jan. 31, 2007
Security at businesses in the area being watched may get information late, if at all

An increasing number of U.S. cities are installing surveillance cameras in hopes of deterring crime in populous downtown business and tourist districts. However, not only are corporate security departments unable to tap into live feeds from those cameras, they also are informed about real or potential crimes after the fact and indirectly.

In CS' view, this amounts to an unnecessary gap in cooperation between public policing and private security, one which could easily be closed. While access to actual video may be a problem, it doesn't seem like a major undertaking for the police surveillance center to make a prompt call directly to an affected security department.

In Dallas, where retired police officers conduct 24-7 monitoring of public surveillance video. If those people spotted, say, a suspected burglary in progress, the company running that establishment wouldn't be contacted until after the incident, while the investigation is in progress, explained Sgt. Gil Cerdacerda, spokesman for the Dallas Police Department. And, the call would most likely go to another department and be funneled down to security, since the police don't maintain a list of security departments for companies in the surveillance district.

If the cameras simply spotted a suspicious person hanging around a business who hadn't yet committed any crime, the businesses wouldn't be notified at all. The same goes for a nearby mugging, since the victim is an individual, not a business, Cerdacerda said - although the business would be quite concerned about assaults in the vicinity.

This means businesses and their security departments, if they have them, might not learn of some crimes unless they obtained crime data or heard about it via networking.

Much the same situation holds true in Chicago, where 251 cameras now survey parts of the city 24/7 (although, owing to the large number of cameras, police generally only monitor the views if an officer in the field requests it).

The Chicago Police Department wouldn't notify businesses about crimes in which they weren't the victim (burglary, robbery, vandalism, etc.) or promptly inform them about crimes caught on camera, said spokesman Marcel Bright.

Police don't want private security responding to an incident they're handling, he noted.

More often, security departments ask police to watch videotape.

Source: Corporate Security, 01/31/2007

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