ATLANTA — Atlanta leaders are asking the community to let them tap into their home and business security cameras to help them better tackle crime.
On Tuesday, the Atlanta Police Department highlighted the success of their latest technology, Connect Atlanta, while urging the public to help them expand the surveillance system by registering personal cameras.
“We come to you today to talk about what is truly the neighborhood watch of the 21st century, where technology and our Ring cameras are being used to solve crimes and help our most vulnerable citizens in Atlanta," said Interim Chief of Police Darin Schierbaum.
Officials say Connect Atlanta, a network of more than 5,700 integrated and 3,000 registered cameras, has been essential in tackling crime since its inception in January. Chief Schierbaum highlighted three recent cases in which the system was critical in finding someone or making an arrest.
One involved locating an Alzheimer's patient within hours after her family reported her missing in May. The other two involved making an arrest within days of two deadly shootings, one being the shooting death of 6-month-old Greyson Flemming-Grey - where police say cameras helped them track down Dequaise Little within 24 hours.
“If it were not for the cameras – all we would have gone out there and done is collect shell casings and we wouldn’t really have a clue about what happened. So the video cameras made it possible for us to identity everyone," said Atlanta Police Department Major Michael O’Connor.
Officials said the majority of registered cameras include home surveillance systems like Ring doorbell cameras and integrated cameras which can become a part of the city's live network of cameras - most of which currently are city or business owned. They said the difference between the two is that footage from registered cameras is given up voluntarily.
“Once we have a crime – they can draw a circle around that location and say ‘Hey we had an incident in this location – can you check this time frame on your Ring camera or home security camera to see if you have any footage?'….and so then they share that with us. That’s the only involvement – we are not spying in on their cameras at all," said Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr.
Officials say Connect Atlanta allows officers to pull up footage on their cellphones from inside their squad cars before even arriving on scene, as well as locate other officers and first responders.