As private security systems such as Nest and Ring become more ubiquitous, Brick is the latest town to consider allowing residents to voluntarily add themselves to a registry that aims to coordinate where such surveillance cameras exist around town, as a crime-fighting tool.
Police would know where in the area the cameras exist and compare that to investigations in progress, in hopes the surveillance cameras might have caught clues. Police wouldn’t have the ability to tap into the footage, said Brick Township Councilwoman Marianna Pontoriero.
“This is 100 percent voluntary,” said the councilwoman, who praised the police department for working to bring the program to Brick.
An example of how the registry could be helpful would be if a series of car burglaries was reported in a particular neighborhood, police, knowing which homes in the area have the doorbell camera system, could ask those homeowners for footage.
Currently, Manasquan and Toms River are among the towns who have such a registry. Both launched within the last year, with Toms River calling theirs “Operation Watchdog.”
Knowing who has surveillance systems in place could cut down on time spent going door to door asking residents who has such cameras or saw anything, but opponents to such trends nationwide fear over reach or other issues with privacy.
The councilwoman emphasized that the program would be something residents or businesses would opt-in to and not be forced into.
Information will be kept confidential and not for public dissemination. In similar programs, only law enforcement personnel can view the surveillance footage.
A second program Pontoriero said could soon be unveiled in Brick is called Project Lockbox, where a lockbox key accessible to emergency responders or police would be installed outside of homes that wish to participate.
Pontoriero, who returned to the dais August 27 for her first meeting since undergoing cancer treatment, said Project Lockbox could be seen as useful for folks who might have a medical emergency but couldn’t get to the door to let those personnel in.
“Right now we are looking for donations so more residents can have the lockboxes,” she said. A copy of the housekey would be made and placed inside the lockbox, and police would know the combination, she explained.
About $2,500 in donations have come in so far, she said.
Pontoriero said a similar program is called Project Icebox, where a folder of important medical information is kept prominently on your refrigerator. The councilwoman said that as participant in the program, it allowed her and her family as well as first responders to grab that information instead of struggling to find where it might be.
The councilwoman praised Brick Police Chief James Riccio for looking into initiatives such as these.
“We are fortunate to have Chief Riccio who really thinks outside of the box to bring new programs to Brick,” Pontoriero said.