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CCTV - System Operations and Capabilities

The Metropolitan Police Department’s CCTV system is a secure, wireless network of 19 permanently installed cameras owned and operated by the MPDc. These cameras are mounted on various buildings primarily in the downtown DC area. They focus on public spaces around the National Mall, the US Capitol, the White House, Union Station and other critical installations, as well as major arteries and highways that pass through downtown DC. Under DC regulations, additional cameras can be added to the network on a temporary or permanent basis following a period of public comment. During exigent circumstances, additional cameras can be deployed on a temporary basis without advance public notice, but with a post-deployment notification to the public.

CCTV camera feeds are displayed in the MPDC’s Joint Operations Command Center (JOCC), a secure facility located on the 5th Floor of police headquarters. The JOCC is operated by the MPDC, but may include staff from other federal, regional, state and local law enforcement agencies during joint operations. The CCTV system is not a round-the-clock monitoring operation. The system is activated only during major events in the District (such as large-scale demonstrations, the Fourth of July celebration, presidential inaugurations or major investigations such as the October 2002 sniper shootings) or during periods of heightened alert for terrorism.

The Metropolitan Police Department’s use of CCTV is designed to ensure the protection of personal privacy rights. The CCTV network provides video images of public spaces only, and the cameras are not equipped with audio overhear capabilities. The cameras can pan at 360 degrees and tilt at 180 degrees. The cameras do have the capability to zoom in on a particular location, but are used primarily to monitor wide areas of public space, not the individuals within that space. The CCTV system does not use face-recognition or any other biometric technology. Both DC regulations and internal MPDC policy expressly prohibit the arbitrary monitoring of individuals or monitoring of individuals based on race, gender or other factors. Regulation and policy also prohibit the use of the CCTV system for the purpose of infringing on First Amendment rights.