Hundreds of surveillance camera owners register with police to help solve crimes in Kansas City
Hundreds of people are registering their private home or business surveillance cameras to hopefully help police catch criminals on camera.Posted — Updated
The Kansas City Police Department announced the WatchKC program last October to help detectives quickly find the closest camera near the spot where a crime took place.
If a crime occurs at a location, detectives can enter the address into the WatchKC database to see the closest registered surveillance cameras. Contact information for the camera owners is also stored in the database. Detectives then contact camera owners to request to view their surveillance camera footage to see if it captured crucial evidence in the case.
Nineteen cameras record what happens inside and outside dentist Ed Kendrick's business off Independence Avenue near Elmwood Avenue. He installed them after discovering property damage and other crimes near his office.
"It was a feeling of helplessness," Kendrick said. "The security cameras have changed that."
Over the years, his surveillance cameras captured an emergency landing of a police helicopter on Independence Avenue, an erratic driver slamming a car into his building and several vandals destroying public and private property.
Kendrick says about five to six times a year police officers request his surveillance video to investigate crimes.
"There was a murder down the street and we were able to see the escape vehicle as it past our place," Kendrick said. "It's personal survival. It's taking care of my property. It's hopefully reducing the levels of crime in this area."
At last check, 440 business and homeowners are also willing to share their surveillance video with police. Those 440 camera owners have registered 1,600 surveillance cameras with police through the WatchKC program.
Detectives don't connect to private cameras in any way. Instead, they have contact information for registered camera owners. They can call the owner and ask to view footage on a specific date and time after a crime occurs.
"There is no viewing of live footage," Kansas City Police Department Sgt. Jake Becchina said. "There is no looking in on anyone's camera without their permission."
Becchina says the program has already helped detectives investigate cases ranging from property crimes to homicide.
"The camera provides unbiased witness information," Becchina said. "I'd like to see hundreds or thousands more sign up."
Kendrick encourages other camera owners to share their video with investigators. He says his cameras have decreased prostitution near his business and possibly deterred other crimes.
"I think the word is out that this area is monitored fairly well," Kendrick said. "If we can reduce crime, we can be more comfortable. Feel more safe. If we aren't safe, at least we can nail them if we've got the video of the act in progress."
Anyone who lives in Kansas City, MO can register their camera by visiting the police department's website.
Camera owners can also decide to opt out at any time and take their contact information off the registry by visiting the same website and clicking the "remove" tab.
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