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Columbia residents react to potential surveillance footage program


Columbia City Council will vote Monday night on authorizing funds to purchase a real-time crime control surveillance system for the Columbia Police Department, and city residents say they are in favor of the sytem.

The software would give CPD immediate access body-worn cameras, drones and other feeds throughout the city only if there is an emergency or crime.

CPD will not be able to access any surveillance feeds without permission from the owner of the camera.

Columbia residents told ABC 17 News they support the new software, and don't have many concerns, if it helps solve more crime in the city.

"Anything that we can do as a community to support the police department I'm all in favor of," Jason Paetzold, owner of Buds Barbecue said.

"I of course have questions about it but if there is a purpose for them to investigate something and require that footage I don't see the problem with it," Foster McCormick said.

It would cost the city $315,000 from the Asset Forfeiture Fund to Police Budget to purchase Fusus crime center system.

The Columbia Police Department and the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council met Wednesday to discuss implementing the surveillance software platform.

"Say theres an active shooter for example at a school, while responding we would be able to access the cameras in the school to see whats going on," Brian Richenberger, Special Services Commander with CPD said.  

At the meeting on Wednesday, Fusus said large departments that use software like the Atlanta Police Department have seen an improvement in solving violent crimes.

The software can turn any surveillance camera into artificial intelligence to help the police more effectively and quickly search for evidence.

"We're not in the business of facial recognition, that is simply object searches so if you're looking for a red vehicle that was used in a hit and run you can search for that vehicle," Carlos Campano, Sales Rep for Fusus said.

Businesses can choose to give CPD partial or total access to their cameras. With partial access businesses will be able to contact the department on an incident basis and share camera footage. With full access the department can get into the surveillance footage whenever an emergency or crime happens in the area.

The proposal is for a three-year contract that would be paid upfront. After three years, if a renewal is requested, it would cost approximately $125,000 per year in 2026.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.


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