NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s a crime fighting tool that allows law enforcement to plug into private surveillance cameras with consent from the owner, but Metro’s Community Oversight Board (COB) said they had no idea the Metro Nashville Police Department has been using it for nearly a year.

The technology, called Fusus, gives law enforcement access to private citizens’ and business owners’ surveillance camera video with the community members’ permission. The community member also controls the level of access, which includes live streaming and recording capabilities.

Metro police have more than 740 registered cameras, meaning residents have informed police they have surveillance cameras and they can contact them in case of a crime, and more than 200 integrated cameras which certain officers can access to varying degrees, according to Nashville’s Fusus website.

Fusus CEO Chris Lindenau told News 2 in March that the technology has not only helped police solve homicides and hit-and-runs, even stopping an active shooter in one case, but it’s also improved trust between law enforcement and the community.

“It’s now through Fusus that we as community members can share in based on controls that we set on our own video – video that might help solve crime,” Lindenau said. “It’s allowing community members to shape the circumstances upon which sharing is granted.”

According to Jill Fitcheard, executive director of the COB, Metro police spent $175,000 on 58 Fusus devices last September. The department did not have to ask Metro Council for permission before spending the money on the technology, Fitcheard said.

COB members only recently learned about the technology, which they called “alarming.”

“No one had a discussion about it. No one in the community knew about it,” Fitcheard said.

News 2 previously reported Metro police was using the technology this past March and this past May.

Beryl Lipton, an investigative researcher with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told News 2 many departments have avoided having to ask their city councils for approval to implement Fusus and have not been open about the technology to the public.

“To me that’s a red flag,” Lipton said. “I think that there are real concerns with not even having the conversation up front or letting people know that it’s being used, particularly for people who are not at all involved in crime. I think that’s one of the threats to liberty that we’re facing with this overreaching surveillance.”

Due to the lack of conversation surrounding the technology, Lipton said there are many questions about how the video is stored and how often it’s viewed and shared, raising concerns over data privacy and security.

“That is very sensitive information that is just sort of sitting in a server somewhere, and if a bad actor gets access to it, that leaves a lot of people vulnerable, and I think that is something that needs to be considered when this type of surveillance is being used at such scale,” Lipton said.

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News 2 reached out to Metro police for comment, but had not heard back by the time this article was published.

To learn more about Metro’s Fusus program, click here.