CONCORD, CA (May 31, 2022) — The Police Department is asking residents to voluntarily register their home or business security cameras to create a map of locations with private video surveillance that could help solve crimes.
The police could contact people who register in the event of a crime in their area. Such a request to share video is common but takes longer without a registry.
Currently, police use the labor-intensive method of “neighborhood canvassing,” a process of “walking and knocking door-to-door, checking with residents to see if they have cameras and if they recorded an incident or person,” according to the department.
Knowing in advance where cameras are located could save time and fight crime, police say.
“Many residents and business owners currently operate security systems which could aid in criminal investigations, and we have had great success from community members who have supported investigations by providing us with footage from their security systems.”
Registration in the Community Electronic Eye (CEE) program is free and can be completed quickly on the department’s website, where information is posted in English and Spanish. A resident may cancel participation in the registry at any time.
Residents the Pioneer spoke with had mixed reactions to the program.
“We have a video system, and we feel comfortable telling Concord Police Department,” said Laurie Semple said.
While Leanne DeBella-O’Neill says she supports community crime-fighting, she likely wouldn’t register.
“Having the footage when they need it would be nice in helping with crimes, but we have cameras in our home,” DeBella-O’Neill said. “How would we know those weren’t being accessed? Or what if there was someone corrupt working the database, snooping on people and their homes? What if someone used that info to break into a house, keeping an eye on if the owners were home or not? There are a lot of unknowns to how people would access our personal lives.”
Laura Nakamura said that, in general, she supports “community partnership with the police to deter, reduce and prosecute crime.” But she urges residents to understand their rights before signing up for CEE.
“Surveillance cameras may help the public feel safer, based on the belief that they will deter crime. But the reality isn’t quite that simple,” said Nakamura, who is also a Concord City Council candidate. “Residents who register their cameras under the Community Electronic Eye should carefully consider at least a couple of aspects of doing so: privacy, for one, and also that law enforcement can access footage under due process even if the homeowner doesn’t wish to provide it.”
Concord’s program description appears similar to those in the nearby cities of Pleasant Hill, Berkeley and Oakley. Like those departments state on their public websites, the Concord PD site says that “security camera information simply lets us know that you may be willing to share your camera’s footage. Registering does not provide the Concord Police Department with direct access to your camera.”
For more information, visit https://cityofconcord.org and click on the Community Camera Registry link.
Karen Jenkins is pleased to be a correspondent with the Concord Clayton Pioneer News. She has worked as a community journalist on and off for three decades at publications including the Contra Costa Sun in Lamorinda; the Antioch Daily Ledger; the Avon-Beaver Creek Times in Colorado; Roll Call in Washington, D.C. and the Daily Nexus at UC-Santa Barbara. She is also the student advisor for The Sentinel, the student newspaper at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. She may be reached at Karenjenkins241@gmail.com.