Neighbor calls new talking security camera outside Queen Anne CVS 'intrusive'

A Queen Anne resident says a newly-installed security system outside a CVS is barking orders at those who pass by, and is violating the right of people to stand on a public sidewalk. 

He also believes the advanced security system was actively monitoring him at one point last Tuesday, and threatened to call the police on him as he waited for the bus. 

Wesley Keller told FOX 13 that he has lived in this area since 2010.  He says the large camera hanging above the sidewalk at Queen Anne Ave N and Mercer Street is a very recent addition. 

He says the voice messages coming out of the camera system are too loud and invasive. He also says a machine shouldn't be dictating people's rights. 

"What gives CVS the right to tell a citizen of Seattle where they can stand on a city piece of property?" said Keller.

On Friday, a prerecorded message could be heard coming from the camera saying, "This area is currently under surveillance and loitering is prohibited here."

Keller says if he's on a public sidewalk, the company shouldn't be dictating where people can and cannot stand. 

"CVS property ends right here. This is the city of Seattle sidewalk," Keller said, showing FOX 13 where he believes the public has a right to stand. 

Keller also claims a security person talked to him through the cameras early Tuesday morning while he was waiting at the bus stop near the store. 

"They told me I had blue jeans," Keller said.  He then claims the voice from the loudspeaker went on to say he was wearing a backpack, and further described his appearance and clothing.  "They said, ‘You there’. I was like, ‘Who there’?"  

He went on to say that the voice of the person threatened to call police if he didn't leave. 

"They also informed me that if I didn’t get on the next bus, they were going to call Seattle police and say I was prowling or loitering in front of CVS Drugs," said Keller.   

In a statement about the cameras, CVS pharmacy told FOX 13: 

"To help ensure the safety of our customers and employees, we recently installed an enhanced surveillance system at select stores in Seattle that is commonly used throughout the retail industry.  The cameras are focused only on our store entrances and immediate premises. The system also periodically plays a pre-recorded message that loitering is prohibited."  

When asked about Keller's claims that the system was doing active monitoring, telling him what he was wearing and threatening to call police, CVS spokesperson Amy Thibault said the surveillance system used at select Seattle stores do not have that capability. 

"I don’t care what they say, it’s a very responsive camera," said Michael Keller, Wesley's husband.  

The CVS that Keller is concerned about isn't the only location with a similar camera system.  There is another one located at the CVS off the corner of Westlake and Republican.  

FOX 13 spoke to a worker in the area who said the system felt very "dystopian."  

Keller said he's filed a complaint with Seattle's Customer Service Bureau regarding the system. 

"A major business like CVS and telling people they can’t stand in front of the store, it’s like telling you that you can’t breathe air," said Keller. "I called the city of Seattle." 

Keller showed us a written response from the Customer Service Bureau.  It said that the report was going to be forwarded to police. 

FOX 13 has reached out to Seattle Police for comment and a spokesperson said the agency needs more information. They said the Customer Service Bureau does forward information to the department, but it’s initially processed as a customer service issue rather than a complaint of a law violation.