Community Security Cameras and Privacy

A typical concern in many neighborhoods is regarding privacy.

  1. We don’t want Police/FBI/Government to be able keep us under surveillance.
    • I escaped from suppressive regime to freedom loving USA, this feels like back under Stasi
  2. We don’t want Criminals to be able to use our cameras to stalking/see when we are vulnerable.
    • I don’t want my creepy neighbor know when I am home alone as most victims of rape are raped by someone they know.


These concerns and every variation should be discussed before every neighborhood joins Neighborhood Guard. Some people wants to share the images with everybody and the only way to get an understanding about why that might not be the best solution is to openly discuss the concerns and find a level that everyone is comfortable with.

Here is Neighborhood Guards Guidelines to every neighborhood.

  1. Images are NEVER shared with Police/Feds/NSA automatically and indiscriminately – E.g. Never give your login and password to a police officer and tell them to just take what they need.
  2. Each neighborhood determines themselves what they want to share and with whom on a case by case decision.
  3. Only a select small trusted group of individuals (NG recommend 3-5) from each neighborhood review the images when a crime happens, this group is chosen and ratified by the entire neighborhood.
  4. A strict policy is written, shared, communicated AND followed on when and how images are disseminated.
  5. Cameras CANNOT be used to check what time teen/spouse came home.
  6. Images only retrieved when Crime or clearly suspicious activity happens and are never monitored except for system maintenance.
  7. Images are only shared with the police according to the agreed upon guidelines.
  8. All other transfer of images to government requires a court order

Sometimes there will still be that one individual in the neighborhood who is just against cameras no matter what you do. It happens in the best neighborhoods. Please don’t enforce your fees, views and regulations on that person.

Please gently tell them: “You are not required to participate, We believe so strongly in this idea that we are moving forward without you. If you are a victim of a crime the images will still be used for your benefit.”

Some people would rather just be let alone and I empathize fully with them.
The other day I got a somewhat paradoxical email from a shy neighbor asking: “How can I influence the decision on cameras without participating?”

The answer was easy:
Thank you for your interest in and concern about crime prevention.

As a resident in our neighborhood there are no requirements for participating in our neighborhood crime prevention organization, there is no fee and no home ownership requirement. Most people participate by showing up to our meetings. Some participate through email and others again let their voice be heard through more active members whom they trust.


Neighborhood Guard Footage leads to quick arrest

A neighborhood that is participating in Neighborhood Guard and is using our setup and software has sent me the following success story:

The group which is located in the Oakland Hills wishes to remain anonymous for now.

I have personally seen the footage that was submitted to the police and it clearly shows the 4 perpetrators as they leave their car to assault the front door of the house. Lucky the door held and the woman home alone was safe, her testimony was key in tying the individuals in the photos to the home invasion attempt.

Anthony Toribio, Captain of Police, Oakland Police Department
Writes to the reporting neighborhood:

One of the individuals has been arrested and there are warrants out for
the others.
The video in this case was key–best I have ever seen. Then, field officers were quickly able to identify the suspects. The suspect arrested yesterday fled from officers on two previous occasions. Yesterday, the crime response team from our area, spotted him and made the arrest without incident. I am sure the others will be caught soon.

We thank the OPD and Captain Toribio for the good work in apprehending these suspects.