KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo businesses and residents can now choose to register their cameras with the Department of Public Safety, an initiative that police say will help keep the city safe.

There are two options. First, residents and businesses can choose to register their cameras with KDPS. According to the department, when a camera is registered, police will not be able to access live video — but, if needed, they will know where video evidence might be available and who they can ask for it. Registration is free.

“Your address, your name, phone number and your email address — that’s all we see,” KDPS Chief David Boysen said. “Instead of knocking on doors, asking for videos, it’s just a quick email. … We’re all connected now. It just allows people to quickly share that with us, so hopefully we can solve crimes in your neighborhood much more quickly than in the old days.”

Businesses also have a second option for their cameras: integration. If businesses choose, they can buy a small device that will let KDPS access their camera feed if there is an emergency. According to a Tuesday release from KDPS, the camera owner gets to decide which cameras KDPS can access and which will stay private. The video data will be stored on the device that was purchased, which physically stays at the camera’s location but can be shared with KDPS.

Boysen explained the integration would offer immediate suspect information to responding officers, especially in cases when a robbed business is closed or employees don’t have administrative access to the cameras.

“Now, as they’re going to that scene, instead of passing that suspect because they don’t have that description, they might be able to see there’s a suspect … (and) make contact,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to be much more efficient in solving crimes.”

Cameras can be registered and integrated at the newly-launched Connect Kalamazoo website.

KDPS said the initiative is powered by a partnership with Fusus, a software program that uses a cloud-based platform to help connect public and private video.

Integration requires businesses to purchase a Fusus device. The Fusus Core Lite model, which supports up to four cameras, starts at $350. Supporting up to 25 cameras is the Pro model, which has a base price of $1,500. Both require an annual subscription which starts at $150, but the first year is included in the purchase.

Given those costs, Antonio Mitchell, who serves as the city’s community planning and economic development director, said business owners with 10 or fewer employees who want this peace of mind but lack the financial security for it can get help.

“It’s a nominal fee. But if it’s something that’s a little steep, they can utilize some of their technical assistance (grant) dollars to assist with that cost,” Mitchell explained.

Mitchell said his department is looking to have the grants start covering purchases related to the program in 2024, but the department is open to possibly doing so sooner.

If the Kalamazoo community participates, police say the initiative will help them be more efficient and solve crimes more effectively.

“If people know that there’s a chance that this video feed is going to be shared immediately with police and ‘I might get caught,’ they might think twice about committing an armed robbery in the first place, which is really what this is all about,” Boysen said.