Have A Camera? Join The Community CrimeCam Program

We have already seen what can happen when the video caught on a private citizen’s surveillance camera is shared with police.

A couple of weeks ago, a pit bull/mastiff charged toward two Jamestown police officers who were approaching a home to serve an arrest warrant. Almost immediately there were doubts expressed about the story the officers told — until the neighbor’s surveillance video was shared with Jamestown police, who in turn shared it with The Post-Journal. It was somewhat lucky that the neighbor’s camera happened to be on to catch the incident and that the neighbor either notified police that there was video of the incident or that police knew there was a security camera in the neighborhood.

City residents deserve more than luck — and that’s where the Community CrimeCam program comes in. Patrick Swanson, county district attorney, the county Sheriff’s Department, Jamestown Police Department and Dunkirk Police Department are creating a voluntary database of neighborhood surveillance cameras. The database will help police officers know where surveillance cameras are and whether the camera’s owner minds if police ask to see video that may pertain to an investigation. The information shared by the public does not give law enforcement access to someone’s camera footage, and the information will be secure and not shared with anyone other than law enforcement. All the camera owner is doing by signing up is indicating that they have exterior cameras and that they are comfortable with being contacted in the course of an investigation.

It may not sound like much, but cooperation could do much to make our community safer. Police officers and district attorneys are only as good as the cases they are able to build, and video can certainly be a valuable piece of the puzzle in building timelines for the court. And, knowing where home security cameras are within the city can save police valuable time in finding those responsible for a crime. Those who have cameras should consider participating in the Community CrimeCam program.