If you have a video surveillance system at your home or business, you may soon be required to register with police.

Adam Berry, Getty Images

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Belleville) has introduced legislation that would permit a municipality to require that all private, outdoor video surveillance cameras be registered with authorities.

"This would help law enforcement during investigations, it would speed things up for police," Caputo said. "For example, if a crime occurs in a certain area, they would normally have to canvass the whole area to find out where those cameras are. But if they knew where the cameras were, they could go right to them and review the footage, rather than wasting a lot of time and canvassing blocks and blocks to look for cameras."

Caputo insisted this is not a Big Brother situation, where the state is going to be invading people's privacy.

"You know what, they have the cameras anyway, and I think everybody is interested in trying to assist the police where there are crimes," he said. "These cameras already exist, they've made that choice to have them, so this only helps the police cut that time down and make them more efficient in terms of identifying a suspect."

He said the proposed law would prohibit the footage from being used by anyone except the police.

"In a lot of areas in the state the crime is very high, so this will be a big tool for law enforcement," Caputo said. "I see this as the beginning of a discussion. We're open to any suggestions, not only from police groups but from any particular person that may feel this is an intrusion. We'll do everything we can to make it as safe as we can for everyone."

The measure would require anyone with a video surveillance system to provide police with:

  • The name of the person who owns a private, outdoor video surveillance camera;
  • The person's most recent contact information, including a street address and telephone number;
  • The street address where the camera is located;
  • The number of cameras that are installed at the location;
  • The outdoor areas recorded by the camera;
  • Information on how the camera's footage is saved or stored and the duration of time the footage is saved or stored; and
  • Any other information the municipality deems necessary.

The measure also stipulates that anyone who does not register a camera would be subject to a fine of no more than $100.