California City Asks Homeowners to Register Outdoor Surveillance Cameras

City of Manhattan Beach wants any homeowner with a residential surveillance camera to register it with the police department so law enforcement can make requests for footage if nearby crimes should occur.

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Many cities have alarm permit procedures in place for the purposes of tracking false alarms, but the City of Manhattan Beach, a suburb of Los Angeles, wants homeowners to now register their outdoor surveillance cameras with the local police department. But it's not for permitting purposes at all.

According to an article in The Beach Reporter, the police department wants to register the cameras so they can plot a map across the city that shows them exactly where the cameras are located. This grid map can then be used to access surveillance footage from public areas like streets and sidewalks from those cameras in cases when there are nearby crimes.

The city is asking homeowners and businesses to voluntarily fill out a form indicating the locations of their outdoor surveillance cameras. 

Manhattan Beach Mayor Mark Burton says the registration program is part of a larger surveillance plan that also includes increased foot patrols and  license-plate identification cameras around the beach community.

According to the article, in the event of a crime or critical investigation, police could contact a registered owner in the vicinity to review video from a specific time frame. Also, they will use the footage to track vehicles and timeframes of suspects. 

“It’ll go a long way toward protecting your safety and the safety of your business,” Burton told the newspaper. The city wants to have 100 percent participation within the first six months of the program,” according to Burton.  

The city's police chief stresses that the footage will not be used to monitor residents as the police department will not have access to any live feeds.