Strapped for cash and facing a sharp rise in homicides, Jackson, MS, city leaders are expanding police surveillance powers to allow residents and business owners to send live feeds from many types of security cameras — including doorbell cameras — directly to the city’s real-time command center.
The new use of this livestreaming technology by police, which is undergoing a final legal review in Jackson, is drawing interest from other small cities that don’t have the resources to build their own surveillance systems. But some have opted out, citing concerns about privacy violations. Civil liberties advocates say those concerns are valid, warning that the technology could lead to increased police scrutiny of people’s everyday activities and more arrests for low-level offenses, NBC reports.
“What you see behind us is an opportunity, an opportunity to better observe and fill in the gaps,” Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said last month at the ribbon-cutting for the city’s new command center.
The move made Jackson, which has struggled to keep up with advances in high-tech crime-fighting, one of two dozen places in the country where police agencies inked deals this year with Fusus, a small Georgia company that aims to make it easier for American law enforcement agencies to build networks of public and private security cameras.
The company helps police departments build networks of public and private cameras. The service includes devices — black boxes the size of Wi-Fi routers — that convert footage from just about any kind of camera into a format that can be fed, live or recorded, into a police surveillance hub. Fusus contracts with police departments, which typically sell, subsidize or give the devices to private users. Documents obtained through government records requests show Fusus listing packages from $480 to $1,000 a year per device.