Des Moines Police asking for access to home security cameras

DES MOINES, Iowa - Des Moines Police are continuing to ask residents and businesses to sign up their private security cameras for a new program that gives police access to video footage from those cameras.

"WatchDSM" has been in operation for just over two weeks.

Police Sgt. Paul Parizek says people who register their cameras will not lose their privacy rights. "The only information we're going to get from the people who register is who they are, where they are and how to get a hold of them," said Parizek. "The Iowa open records laws have a provision in there where we can protect that information."

Parizek also says officers will not be able access home video footage without the resident's approval, as the program is completely voluntary.

Civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have generally been receptive to programs similar to "Watch DSM" as long as they don't allow police to have remote access to the video. Parizek confirmed for WHO News Radio News that the arrangement locally would also prohibit officers from remotely accessing the footage.

Home security cameras have become increasingly common in Iowa and throughout the U.S. as technology has improved.

Research site Strategy Analytics projects sales to reach $1.4 billion by 2023, up $500 million from 2018. Some of the popular home security camera systems on the market include Panasonic Nubo, ADT Pulse HD Series, Nest Cam and Amazon Cloud Cam.

Des Moines' "Watch DSM" program is similar to one launched a year ago in Kansas City.

2,000 residents have signed up for the Kansas City program while WatchDSM has drawn 200 participants in just two weeks. The first program to allow police use of home video originated in Portland, Oregon.

Parizek says acces to home cameras will help police solve crimes in the critical hours just after they happen. "It basically allows us to speed up our evidence gathering in those critical moments that follow serious crimes," Parizek said.

He says officers will have to do less time consuming neighborhood canvasses in their crime solving efforts. "We know that video evidence has been very useful in several of our recent investigations," said Parizek. "We had three homicides in six days and video evidence played a part in every single one of those."

Anyone interested in registering their home security camera system with "WatchDSM" can do so on the Des Moines Police website.

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