The Dayton, Ohio, City Commission has greenlit a technology that will allow the police department to access both live and recorded video from the security cameras of private residences. The commission voted 3–2 in favor of the technology after a heated two-hour meeting with Dayton police officials.
Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr. and Commissioners Chris Shaw and Matt Joseph voted in favor of the move, while Commissioners Darryl Fairchild and Shenise Turner-Sloss voted against it. Those who opposed the use of Fusus’ real-time video aggregation technology by police said they would have approved of a trial pilot program instead.
According to the company’s website, Fusus offers a cloud-based, real-time crime center that interfaces with 9-1-1 dispatch to combine “private and public video streams into a single feed, enabling greater situational awareness and a common operating picture. Video streams from fixed and mobile sources are all seamlessly combined into a single platform.”
Dayton police officials said they are already using the technology downtown as part of a pilot program paid for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The program is expected to last until June.
Commissioner Shaw said the city can always shut down the funding for Fusus if it does not meet expectations or has problems.
“We can’t know that without going through a pilot … and it’s better when it is paid for by somebody else,” Shaw said, according to the Dayton Daily News. “This is a gift — as we go down this road and it doesn’t work out, if we find some kind of bias that’s demonstrated, then we can tweak that.”
Fusus technology allows police to access livestreamed video from cameras that belong to businesses and residences that voluntarily partner with the police. Dayton Police Major Paul Saunders said the program is entirely voluntary and camera owners can determine the conditions by which police can view footage.
According to Saunders, police already routinely ask for video footage from people who own private security cameras, but the Fusus system will streamline the process. Fusus also allows police to create a camera registry where camera owners who participate provide their contact information to police to make it easier for officers to reach out when they are looking for video evidence.
Those in favor of the technology said the security cameras police would access are already located in public spaces where people should not expect privacy.
“I think it is a very good idea both as a deterrent and a way to identify perpetrators and crime more quickly and efficiently than the means currently used,” Lindy McDonough, president of the Hillview Neighborhood Association, told the Dayton Daily News. “I don’t see privacy as an issue since many institutions, businesses and private citizens already use surveillance systems for their own properties.”
“It’s not brain surgery, it’s not rocket science, it is potentially life-saving and it has the potential to revolutionize our response,” Saunders added.
Dayton Police Chief Kamran Afzal said improving access to surveillance footage can also help prepare officers before they arrive on a scene. “We are in one of the most violent cities in the United States of America,” the chief said. “We don’t know what we’re walking [into] half the time. The threshold is someone is calling for help.”
According to the Attorney General’s Office, the multijurisdictional pilot program with Fusus involves Dayton, Trotwood, Miamisburg, West Carrollton and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and costs about $250,000.
In response to opponents who argue the technology will lead to overpolicing and invasion of privacy, Saunders said the department will evaluate potential adverse impacts of new technology. He added that police have already done their due diligence by assessing the questions and concerns from community members raised at more than a dozen public information meetings prior to using the technology.