Friday, September 2, 2011

Canvassing A Neighborhood Now Includes Surveillance Cameras

This is an interesting idea: There is a story over at NPR about a Philadelphia Police project to register privately owned surveillance cameras in the city. The hope is that when a crime is reported, Philly Police will know who has a camera system that might have captured evidence of the crime on video.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says these days, video is key to cracking many cases. 
"[One] of the things that's different from when I was in the detective division years ago is that now when you're canvassing not only are you trying to find people that might have information, you find yourself looking upwards to see whether or not there's a camera that may have captured that event," he says. "You spend an awful lot of time doing that sort of thing. 
Ramsey says with a grid of registered cameras, police will know where to look for footage that may have caught a crime on tape. 
"You save a lot of personnel hours by doing it that way — by knowing where to look," he says.
Even in the sleepy little burg where I work, privately owned surveillance camera systems are being identified as holding crucial evidence of crimes. Even if a camera didn't capture the crime, they can put the suspect in the area, capture information about a suspect vehicle, or even put the suspect and the victim together proximate to the crime occurring.

Is your agency canvassing for surveillance cameras as well as for witnesses when investigating crimes? Would a registry like Philadelphia's help your agency?

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