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CPD chief talks with Democratic club about video surveillance system

Watch the presentation in the video above.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Boone County's Democratic Party club heard a presentation Friday from Columbia's top cop about a software platform that enables police to access public or business video footage.

The decision for the Columbia Police Department to use the Fusus software is going in front of the City Council on Monday.

Fusus is used in more than 150 cities. Columbia Police Department Chief Geoff Jones gave a presentation Friday about the system to the Muleskinners Club.

CPD claims the software would help in its crime response and investigations. Jones previously said the program would be "an opt-in thing for anybody, it's completely voluntary."

"We try to get video on most of our cases," Jones said. "But right now, it's very difficult and time consuming. We're not asking to get access to anything we can't already get, it's just more about efficiency with us."

When an incident or crime occurs, police currently have to canvas the area looking for security cameras whether they are on businesses or a residence. From there, they have to ask for permission to view the footage.

According to Jones, people most of the time have no problem providing footage. However, there are times where the footage expires or officers miss a camera resulting in potential evidence being lost.

CPD spokesman Christian Tabak said the department already has access to some cameras in the city. These are basic city cameras at intersections with stoplights.

Jones said facial recognition is not utilized in this system.

"Some of the things I've been asked is if it has facial recognition, it does not. It can track things like a backpack or a bicycle, or a red car or blue car. It does not track race or gender," Jones said.

Business-owned cameras will be able to be tapped into as a stream in the event something happens, police can get a better idea of what is happening or how many units they may need to send. The reason they can tap in is because these cameras are all facing public property.

While on public property, you are consenting to being filmed, according to Jones.

Columbia's Downtown Leadership Council voted to endorse CPD's proposal in late October and the University of Missouri also backs its use.

Detractors of the system include the Mid-Missouri Civil Liberties Association, who sent a letter of concern to the City Council in October.

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 wrote in the letter. "It is they whose activities will be placed under surveillance."

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

Ethan Heinz

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