'Police don’t know that I have security cameras:' Homeowner helps Mercer Island PD launch voluntary security camera database

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. -- A new police partnership with Mercer Island neighborhoods could help catch criminals. Police are asking homeowners to sign up for a voluntary security camera database.

“I was thinking I have security cameras, but the police don’t know that I have security cameras,” said homeowner William Shadbolt.

He contacted police with the idea to start the new program after security camera video led to an arrest in a recent break-in. Police say the program is very similar to the police database of homeowners with alarm systems.

“So if we have a particular crime in an area our investigators can go to that database and see if there are any addresses close to where the incident occurred that might have a camera,” said Mercer Island Police Commander Leslie Burns. “Down the line we are probably going to solve crimes based on this type of evidence.”

Police say all they collect is the homeowner’s contact information and signing up doesn’t require the homeowner to give police access to their camera system. Detectives would request permission to see any video.

Shadbolt says several of the cameras at his home point towards the streets. If there is a break-in or crime around his neighborhood, he believes the video could be helpful to police.

“It’s a voluntary registration program so if someone doesn’t want to participate they don’t,” said Shadbolt.

Police say the city’s legal team took a look at the program and determined there were not any privacy concerns or legal issues.

Q13 News reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington on Tuesday. A spokesperson said Wednesday morning the ACLU will not weigh in on the voluntary security camera database.