Privacy Concerns Raised Over Installation Of Cameras In Beaver Dam Park

(Beaver Dam) The Beaver Dam Rotary Club is working to install cameras at Swan Park in time for their annual Christmas Light Display. The surveillance was prompted by several incidents of vandalism targeting the display. Wireless internet covering the entire the park would also be installed for use year-round, just like the cameras.

The Rotary is making the initial $10-thousand-dollar investment and Interquest would cover all maintenance free for five years. The cameras would have infrared technology for night viewing. The number of camera’s is estimated at five-to-six with locations to be determined throughout the park, not just in the area of the display. The equipment would be sold to the city for one dollar once in place.

In a recent committee meeting, Council President Chris Olson said that the private surveillance of a public park does not sit right with him. Olson questioned the checks and balances in place when a private company and a local service organization have constant access to surveillance video on city property.

Sheriff Dale Schmidt, a Rotarian, says the video would not be monitored all the time and would only be accessed in the event of criminal activity. He says the service organization would only need access while the lights display is active.

Noah Pearson, who works in IT and lives near the park, spoke during the committee meeting. Pearson asked what would stop those with access to the video from releasing photos of an event or hosting live streaming, or worse, diverting cameras to monitor traffic or a troublesome house.

The sheriff says the agreement includes stipulations that Interquest could not profit from the images. He noted that there are fourth amendment restrictions preventing law enforcement from invading privacy without a warrant. Schmidt did say if there were traffic concerns it would be reasonable to turn the cameras for enforcement.

Police Chief John Kreuziger says he has no intention of using the system for surveillance on anyone home or at any intersection. Kreuziger says vandalism and criminal activity is an issue year-round and, for the safety and security of everyone, the system would be beneficial.

The motion carried with two dissenting votes and will be considered by the full common council on Monday.