RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Raleigh Police Department held its first public meeting Monday night about its new program "CONNECTRALEIGH," which aims to give police more streamlined access to security cameras at homes and businesses.
If members of the public want to give Raleigh Police access to their cameras, they have two options.
The first option is registration, which only informs police that a member of the community has a camera in a certain location. People who register their cameras provide their contact information to police upon registration. If a crime is committed near the camera, police may then reach out to the person who registered the camera and ask if that person can send them the video from that time. The person who registered can decline to provide footage. Police said this is essentially a more efficient way to ask for footage than going door-to-door after an incident. People with registered cameras can remove their information from police at any time.
The second option is integration. People interested in this option are agreeing to let police have real-time access to their camera feeds. This program only works with certain types of cameras, popular home security companies like Ring and Nest do not allow police to use this feature.
Per policy, police say they will not access integrated cameras unless an incident is taking place near them. People who have given integrated access to police can cut off the access at any time. They can also ask which officers are viewing their feeds and when.
The registration option is free, the integration option does come with a fee. The company that is providing the service to Raleigh Police, called Fusus, has more information about the costs associated with integration on its website.
The Fusus representative at Monday night's meeting assured the public that its system is extremely secure and contended that hackers cannot gain access to any of the registered or integrated cameras.
One woman attending Monday night's meeting appeared concerned about her privacy. She asked police about access her neighbors might give to police with their cameras. If her home was in view of those cameras, could she opt out of sharing that with police? Police assured her that they would only ask for cameras with public-facing views, so they wouldn't be using cameras that face backyards in most cases.
They said they also would ask for videos or view live feeds in the event of a crime being committed. However, they did not provide her with a way to opt out of her home being shown in someone else's camera.
The woman was also concerned about who has access to these cameras.
Police told her that only crime analysts working in a single unit at the Raleigh Police Department would have access to these live feeds. The law enforcement agency at large would not be able to view these feeds. The crime analysts who would have access are required to take three hours of continuing education on privacy training annually.
Another attendee of Monday's meeting, 30-year Raleigh resident Robert Courts, was in favor of the program. He said he thinks it will help officers better respond to active crimes and could even help curb crime in some areas by helping find suspects before they can commit more crimes.
If a public data request is made to the Raleigh Police Department, these videos are not classified as public information and will not be shared if requested.
For the integrated cameras that provide a live view to police, facial recognition will not be used. However, Fusus does use Artificial Intelligence to track objects.
For example, it could track a person who was wearing a white hat or had a bookbag. The goal is to help police track suspects as they flee the scene. The cameras can also often provide more detailed information about someone who is suspected of committing a crime, such as their clothing or the exact make and model of a vehicle fleeing a crime scene.
Other departments are already using this technology in North Carolina, including the Fayetteville Police Department, as well as larger departments in other states such as the Atlanta Police Department.
For those interested in attending future meetings to learn about CONNECTRALEIGH, here are the dates and locations:
Tuesday, Feb. 20
Brier Creek Park, 10810 Globe Road
Tuesday, Feb. 27
Jaycee Park, 2405 Wade Ave.
Monday, March 11
John Chavis Memorial Park, 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
The public meetings are all scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.