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L.A. Sheriffs Dept. to Test Private Security Camera Access

The technology would provide deputies with “real-time intelligence” of the interior of a building before they enter a structure.

A test program would allow Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies access to the security cameras in a building from their vehicles’ monitors is set for January in the municipality of Industry, Calif., according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The technology would provide deputies with “real-time intelligence” of the interior of a building before they enter a structure, said Sgt. Chris Kovac, who is coordinating implementation of the test program.

The program will put access to live cameras, floor plans and a business-controlled database in squad cars patrolling Industry. The test of that technology is the result of efforts by retired sheriff’s deputy A.D. Hall, who has partnered with the Industry Chamber of Commerce to launch the test.

Hall created a company—Public Safety Online (PSO)—that provides secure access to a Web-based database that is as much of a tool for businesses as it is for police.The idea to tap into camera feeds came when Hall saw day care centers supplying passwords to let parents check on their kids over the Internet. “It takes that same concept and makes that available to first responders,” he said.

However, the Sheriff’s Department needed to upgrade its equipment before deputies could use the system, and that occurred in September 2010, when Raytheon won a $19.9 million contract to install a mobile computer data system in the entire fleet. Industry is the first to get the new computers, which will be in all 55 cars at the station by February. The station’s dispatch center is also undergoing an equipment overhaul in two weeks, and the PSO system will be an integral part of it.

The deputies will not monitor or record camera feeds, but only access them when there is a call or alarm. An audit trail with timestamps is meant to prevent possible abuse.

Participating businesses will be able to post emergency contacts, share information on crime trends and check audit trails showing who accessed a camera feed. “This becomes a citadel of information for people who need to use police services,” Hall said. However, participants will not get preferential treatment, he added.

In addition, for those businesses that want more security, Hall is developing a program that will allow business owners to form their own versions of neighborhood watchs. “It creates a layer in the private sector,” he said. “Now they’re using technology to help themselves.”

To help Industry businesses participate in the program, the Chamber will provide up to $500 in rebates to companies that purchase the extra equipment needed to connect security cameras to the database. “If we can make the entire business community secure, that’s well worth it,” said Don Sachs, the Chamber’s executive director.