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What’s next for the future of Fusus surveillance in Columbia after the City Council voted it down


The Columbia City Council isn't ready to just give up on the idea of new surveillance camera software for police.

After a tense meeting that lasted more than five hours Monday night, the Columbia City Council voted against using the Fusus surveillance software in a 4-3 vote.

The "no" votes consisted of Ward 1 Councilwoman Pat Fowler, Ward 2 Councilwoman Andrea Waner, Ward 3 Councilman Roy Lovelady, and Ward 4 Councilman Nick Foster.

The "yes" votes included Ward 5 Councilman Matt Pitzer, Ward 6 Councilwoman Betsy Peters, and Mayor Barbara Buffaloe.

Fusus is a software that allows police to access public and business video footage in real-time, with prior permission.

The vote on Monday does not mean that the discussion of using the software is over. Multiple council members talked about wanting more information from other cities that use the software and voted 7-0 in regards to looking at using a community group that could oversee police use of the software, should it be approved. The suggestion was brought up by one of the several dozen people who spoke on the issue Monday night.

People ABC 17 News spoke to on-and-off camera, said its been a scary few weeks, with a shooting at a LGBTQ club in Colorado and the stabbing deaths of four college students in Idaho they are reminded anything can happen and said they could see the benefits.

A local Downtown Columbia businesses owner said if the software protects the downtown district, they are in support.

"Keeping downtown safe is important to us and important to our guests, and anything the police can do to take care of us and the community we are all for," Jason Paetzold, owner of Bud's BBQ said.

It was clear from Monday night's meeting that the community is split, and for many, Fusus feels unsafe.

"I'm incredibly glad it didn't pass tonight. It seems like they were waiting for white people like me to show up and support the police and i am glad thats not what happened," Anthony Willroth, a Downtown business owner and Columbia resident said.

"Surveillance without the checks and balances of asking permission or asking for a warrant not only violates that fourth amendment but leaves room for abuse to go unnoticed and unpunished," another Columbia resident said.

Council members expressed concern over the policy, at the meeting, saying it was was unclear, unfinished and left them with a lot of questions.

"I cannot, I am no longer comfortable supporting the software system," Fowler said.

"Nowhere in this policy does it define what a crime is, I find myself wanting to table it all together," Waner said.

"I don't think that this system is building any kind of trust," Lovelady said.

ABC 17 News reached out to the City and CPD for comment and have not yet heard back.

Do you agree with the council vote? Let us know in the poll.

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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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