Ohio police consider citizen video surveillance database

The voluntary database for doorbell camera and home video surveillance footage would be used as an extension of officers canvassing a neighborhood

John Benson
The Plain Dealer

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — The growing popularity of doorbell cameras and home video surveillance systems has the North Olmsted City Council currently considering the creation of a voluntary citywide database of privately-owned exterior recording devices that could be used as a resource to solve criminal investigations.

“I wanted to introduce this legislation to add another resource for our police department,” North Olmsted Councilwoman-at-Large Angela Williamson said. “Many of our residents are now equipped with home surveillance devices. By creating a voluntary registration program, our residents are able to collaborate with local law enforcement to deter and help solve local crimes.”

North Olmsted Police Chief Bob Wagner said a city database, which would mirror an existing Cuyahoga County program, has been talked about for a while with other local communities recently following suit.

“The reason I like the idea of bringing it to the city of North Olmsted is I think we can do a good job,” Wagner said. “We’ve had occasions where we’ve used people’s surveillance cameras or Ring doorbells to solve a crime or provide evidence of a crime.

“You’d be amazed at the amount of people in the city who have cameras on their homes -- doorbells, sides, interiors and exteriors. It’s so cheap and affordable.”

The police chief said the use of a privately-owned exterior recording device database would be an extension of officers canvassing a neighborhood after a crime.

“That’s just good, old-school police work taken a step further,” Wagner said. “If we can expedite things knowing there are neighbors in the area of a crime who have surveillance video from our database, that’s a win-win for everybody.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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