Program could let APD monitor private cameras

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There are 41 cameras Austin Police monitor from the Real Time Crime Center at department headquarters, but a new program would allow them access to private security cameras at homes and businesses.

The system modeled after a program in Washington, D.C. would allow businesses or individuals to register their camera with the department, granting officers the ability to monitor the camera from the RTCC. The program in D.C. added access to nearly 1,000 new cameras in a matter of months.

“It is like putting 1,000 officers on the street immediately to give you real time info out there,” said Asst. Chief Troy.

Since HALO cameras were installed downtown and in the Rundberg area in late 2011, Gay said they have assisted officers in hundreds of cases and individual homeowners and businesses have always shown interest looping their own security cameras into the RTCC.

“We have been waiting for the technology to be relatively inexpensive,” said Gay. Although the system and the accompanying costs are still being examined, Gay said the business or property owner would pay for the device enabling the department to monitor existing private security cameras. Austin Police would pay for the equipment and infrastructure needed to access the camera on their end.

“I think the cameras, wherever they are at, will be a value to our department,” said Gay. “Crime can happen anywhere, so the more cameras, the more ability we have. It is allowing us to gather real time information very quickly.”

In 2011, a woman was violently punched from behind and robbed of her purse in an incident which occurred in front of the Liberty Bar. The bar owner, K.C. Ricks, gave crystal clear surveillance video of the incident to police and it led to an arrest. Ricks said he supports the idea of giving police live access to their security cameras.

“We would absolutely be behind that 110 percent,” he said. “It was a great thing to be a part of catching that criminal.”

A pilot program is expected to begin in the next month to test the system at a few businesses before offering to the public.

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