By Jessica Peralta/Behind the Badgeoc.com
The Westminster Police Department is taking community policing to the next level by asking residents to register their home surveillance cameras to help solve crimes.
“This is just one other proactive measure to fight crime with our citizens,” said WPD Commander Cameron Knauerhaze, who oversees the new program.
Part of a larger community policing initiative that will work with businesses and residents in crime prevention, this leg of the program utilizes new software that maps out real-time criminal activity in the city. Residents can view this activity on crimereports.com and also input some information of their own – mainly registration for their own home security cameras.
“It’s just a tool to give us a compass of where surveillance cameras are at,” said Knauerhaze. “It’s completely free and voluntary for citizens.”
The idea is that when crimes take place in the city, investigators and the agency’s crime analyst can go into their software – called Command Central – and locate nearby surveillance cameras. These cameras could be the key to identifying suspects and solving crimes. The registration information citizens put in is for law enforcement eyes only and is not viewable on the crimereports.com website to the public. Once investigators locate the appropriate cameras, they will contact owners of the cameras to access the necessary footage.
Det. Ryan Reyes, who works in the Crimes Against Property/Burglary Division at the WPD, said this new tool will really make the investigations process faster and more efficient. He’s already been using Command Central to help spot crime trends in areas, but once it has surveillance camera information, he’ll be able to use it for active crime-solving.
“We have to have the community assisting law enforcement,” he said. “The citizens in the community [are] what really we rely on consistently to solve crimes.”
He said in his work investigating burglaries, he’s often confronted with the fact that criminals will not park on the street where they’re breaking into homes and businesses – rather, they park on an adjacent street the next block over. With Command Central, once cameras are in the system, he’ll be able to find appropriate cameras where suspects may have parked to try to identify suspects.
“I definitely could use it every day pretty much in every call,” he said. “That’ll just be another tool in the toolshed to solve crimes.”
Cheryl Acoutin, secretary of Sol Vista Neighborhood Watch, West Westminster, said she will be encouraging neighbors to register their systems.
“We have two commercial systems currently in place. We have identified our next location and [are] preparing to install cameras with License Plate Recovery. We have a fourth location also identified. We are working with homeowners to get permission to place the hardware on and in their homes,” she said.
“Everything that we have done helps to take a bite out of crime,” Acoutin added. “Not one thing, but all things combined: street signs, corrugated signs, website, commercial cameras and private surveillance systems, quarterly meetings, community events. The more systems we have, the more chances to identify criminals.”
Westminster residents and business owners can register their surveillance cameras through Westminster PD’s registration portal at the bottom of its website in the Engagement section. Registration is quick and easy.