City wants to help Chicagoans pay for home security systems to help police


CHICAGO (CBS) — The City of Chicago is offering to pay for security cameras and other devices to curb crime.

As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported Monday, the city wants more devices such as doorbell cameras mounted around the city to catch criminals. Such technology has already proved useful – home security video in January caught young teens carjacking two women at gunpoint in Mount Greenwood.

City leaders are also making promises that what you share will remain totally in your own control.

Was there an accomplice? What was the timeline? Who shot first? These are questions that surveillance video can answer effectively, thus setting the table for where an investigation goes next.

This is why the city wants to widen it lens to your front door.

Doorbell cameras help our viewers see the incidents. They also help police investigate, and help prosecutors determine charges.

“Video is a crucial, crucial part of solving all crimes – but particularly homicides and shootings,” said police Supt. David Brown.

Now, in the hopes of solving crime, the city is rolling out its Protection Rebate Program for homes and businesses. The city willing to pay for a portion of outdoor cameras like doorbell cameras, outdoor motion-sensor lights, and self-installed vehicle trackers.

Video and information from these devices can only be shared if the owner consents to it.

“CPD will not have direct access to your camera system. CPD cannot access camera footage without your consent, and there is no requirement to provide footage to CPD at any time,” said city Chief Coordination Officer Tamara Mahal.

What is clear is that these programs are sometimes controversial.

A similar program was launched in 2019 by Houston police. Unlike Chicago, free cameras from Amazon-owned Ring cameras there came with strings.

As stated on a Houston police Facebook post, participants were required to “sign up for the Ring video recording plan for a Small FEE ($30 a year or $3 a month), agree to allow HPD to access the cameras when a crime occurs when we request it, and must place the doorbell where it has a good sight picture.”

Activist groups opposed the plan on the basis of police over-reach, and the Houston Police Department said Monday that they have since disbanded it.

Chicago is not demanding any fee or adding any strings, but is hoping the approach keeps the crime trend line moving down from its peak-pandemic high.

“You are literally becoming our eyes and ears,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

George Floyd is from Houston, and sources say that was part of why Amazon wanted to stop the program. As for the Chicago program, details on how payment will work will roll out in coming weeks.

If you have a camera on your house and want to alert CPD to its existence to help with a crime you can do that now by visiting this website.

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