The bill (A-3843) permits a municipality to enact an ordinance establishing a private outdoor video surveillance camera registry and requiring any owner of a private outdoor video surveillance camera to register the camera with the municipal police department or force.
“This will help law enforcement officials with investigations of criminal activity and save valuable time and resources by providing them with a registry to determine whether a camera is located near where criminal activity occurred,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “We’ve seen many cases where captured footage has assisted an investigation, including the recent abduction in Philadelphia. Providing police with a registry like this will make that assistance more common, and that can only be a good thing for public safety.”
Any ordinance enacted under the bill is to require the following information to be provided in the municipal registry:
· The name of the person who owns a private outdoor video surveillance camera;
· The person’s most recent contact information, including a street address and telephone number;
· The street address where the camera is located;
· The number of cameras that are installed at the location;
· The outdoor areas recorded by the camera;
· Information on how the camera’s footage is saved or stored and the duration of time the footage is saved or stored; and
· Any other information the municipality deems necessary.
A “private outdoor video surveillance camera,” is defined as a device installed outside a residence or business that captures footage of the area outside the residence or business for security purposes.
The ordinance also is to provide that a person who does not register a camera as required will be subject to a fine not exceeding $100.
The bill further provides that information contained in a municipal private outdoor video surveillance camera registry is to be made available only to law enforcement officials investigating criminal activity and will not be considered a public record.
A state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency is authorized to contact a person who registered a private outdoor video surveillance camera in order to request access to footage that may be useful to a criminal investigation.
“With these careful regulations, this bill will go a long way toward potentially helping law enforcement use all the tools at their disposal to improve public safety – and it’s up to each municipality to decide whether to use this approach,” Caputo said. “Public safety is paramount, but so is local input and control. With this bill, we combine both.”