Tuscaloosa Police to Ask to Access Live Surveillance Video From Local Businesses
Police in Tuscaloosa are preparing to ask local businesses for access to their live surveillance camera feeds, Chief Brent Blankley said Wednesday afternoon.
The new program, tentatively called Safeguard Tuscaloosa, would allow the police department to access security cameras outside local businesses in real-time, exponentially increasing their ability to track suspects immediately after crimes are committed.
Blankley teased the new program during a public discussion about public safety hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama Wednesday afternoon -- read more about that meeting here.
Near the end of the panel's talk, Blankley said upgrading security cameras and working with TPD to share footage captured is probably the most impactful thing any business in the area can do to help the department reduce crime in the city.
"One of the biggest things and biggest assets that we could have is good quality camera footage," Blankley told business leaders Wednesday.
Blankley said most business leaders already "bend over backward" to assist TPD in investigations, but too often, their security footage is low-quality, only stored for a short time, or nonexistent because surveillance cameras are offline or pointed in the wrong direction to capture meaningful images.
"Cameras are so sharp now, they're amazing," Blankley said. "But yeah, a lot of our businesses still use old technology. It's very grainy. We know it's an expense but at the same time, if we're just trying to catch that one person who broke into a car in your parking lot, they probably broke into five or six cars in another parking lot and we can identify them much, much quicker [with good security footage.]"
He urged business owners to invest in upgrading their security cameras, share footage that may aid police investigations and, eventually, to participate in Safeguard Tuscaloosa.
"You're going to see in the upcoming months, we're going to launch Safeguard Tuscaloosa," Chief Blankley said. "What that is, it’s a program that will tie into our Cyber units that will allow us to, if the business so chooses, to actually get live feeds from your outside cameras."
Security footage already aids countless investigations in the Tuscaloosa area after the fact, but Blankley said using live feeds instead of old, archived video will allow police to more efficiently track suspects around the city in real-time moments after a crime is reported.
"We're not going to be watching your cameras every day or anything like that," Blankley said. "It’s so that if we have a crime committed, we can go ahead and try and track that suspect as soon as possible and [participation] is going to be up to each business owner."
For more updates on Safeguard Tuscaloosa as its specifics are ironed out and announced, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.