By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Lethbridge Regional Police Service (LRPS) is encouraging businesses and home owners to register their security cameras, so footage may be used to assist investigators in the event of a crime in their neighbourhood, including Coaldale.
According to a recent media release, once a camera is registered, the business or homeowner will receive an LRPS Security Camera Registry sticker to place in their window to help deter criminals.
Security camera footage, LRPS Cst. Kara Hagen said in the media release, has always been an invaluable tool to help police solve crime and the registry program is a way for police to build on that success and encourage the community to take an active role to prevent and fight crime. Hagen is an LRPS Community Liaison Officer.
Once someone has registered their security camera, Hagen added in the media release, registered residents or businesses will only be contacted by police if an incident has been reported in the vicinity of the camera and officers believe it may contain evidence relevant to an investigation.
Hagen noted there is already one Coaldale resident registered, as of last Wednesday.
The program, Hagen explained on the phone last week, has been a long time coming and is something that should have been already in place.
“The fact that cameras are more and more prone to be at businesses and residences, especially externally, now we can use them. Back in the day, they were just internal cameras, no one cared about the outside but we care about what gets caught on the footage outside. That’s where we get vehicles, suspects walking by, victims walking by and sometimes the whole criminal incident occurs within camera shot. That was really the driving force behind it because it aids in police investigations but it is also a crime prevention tool,” said Hagen.
Hagen noted it’s quick and easy to sign up for the program online. For more information or to register a camera visit http://www.lethbridgepolice.ca and click on Security Camera Registry.
“We will only contact the registrant if a criminal activity or something is caught within their cameras. That’s the only time we would contact them — if we feel that their cameras may be able to aid in an investigation. Their information is 100 per cent confidential. Everyone worries about the ‘Big Brother’ — we don’t tap into your security system. You still withhold your cameras, just like you normally do, it’s just that we have a contact instead of having to canvas and search for contacts. That way, we just look on our database — ‘Perfect there’s a camera here and a phone number and a contact person,’ now we have a direct contact,” said Hagen.
Hagen said the program was adopted from the Philadelphia Police Service. The program kicked off in Lethbridge and Coaldale last Monday.
Within two days of the program being unveiled last Monday, 13 people had registered.
“We’re quite happy with that. We’d like to see more but that will come,” she added.
Again, Hagen wants to emphasize the program is both a crime prevention and investigative tool.
“We encourage residents, as well as businesses. Nowadays, there’s so many people that have cameras externally on their residences, as well as businesses that people don’t know but that means we don’t know either.”
With this program, Hagen said, the LRPS knows about cameras throughout the area that can be utilized.