COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Columbia's Downtown Leadership Council voted in favor of the Columbia Police Department to use the Fusus software on Wednesday.
The Fusus software would allow law enforcement to have access to both pubic and private surveillance cameras, body-worn cameras, drones and other feeds through the city. CPD would only use surveillance video on a permission and voluntary participation basis.
Fusus is described as a collaborative public/private security network and video integration platform that expedites evidence gathering and allegedly allows for greater efficiency in responding to critical incidents.
"Fusus is a platform that allows us to look at cameras that businesses have that are publicly facing," CPD Chief of Police Geoff Jones said. "That also allows people in the community who have private videos to share those with us."
The Fusus platform allows CPD personnel to view live video feeds from different sources. Fusus Real-Time Crime Center in the Cloud gathers all of the video feeds CPD has access to, and enhances CPD's situational awareness and investigative capabilities, according to CPD's Fusus proposed policy.
"Having the information that comes from camera footage sooner gives us the ability to look for the car or the person dressed in a certain way more quickly, and it gives us the ability to direct our resources towards the investigation and less towards trying to gather video from business to business" Jones said in response to the Downtown shooting that occurred on Friday.
Jones said the system would also benefit schools, following the Rock Bridge High School incident that happened on Tuesday.
"Well anytime that we have an event in a school where we perceive a threat, we can evaluate that threat by looking at video feeds," Jones said. "To see the mannerisms of the people in the school. Are they running? Are they hiding? Are they just conducting business as normal? And in any incident like that, having the ability to look at camera footage would be beneficial."
Jones said the program would be "an opt-in thing for anybody, it's complete voluntary."
The program would offer those residents and business different levels or participation. Jones said these level range from live feeds to requesting access to previous recordings to no participation at all.
"I think having the right people in custody for committing the crimes is most important, and having video of the person during the event is the most valuable evidence that we can have in a lot of cases," Jones said.
Detractors of the system include the Mid-Missouri Civil Liberties Association, who sent a letter of concern to the City Council earlier this month.
Dan Viets -- president of Mid-Missouri Civil Liberties Association -- said in the letter that the organization has reservations about the proposal.
"While business owners may indeed be required to give their consent before their cameras will be connected to the Fusus system, the businesses’ employees and customers certainly are not required to give permission," Viets said. "It is they whose activities will be placed under surveillance."
Viets said there is no independent assessment of the Fusus system establishing if it reduces crime or significantly aids in the apprehension of criminals.