Private security cameras can be registered with new program

Private security cameras can be registered with new program

Renton police department’s new voluntary registration system shows them where your cameras are

Setting up a security camera is easier than ever, far more advanced, with infrared capabilities and high resolution video. Modern surveillance helped identify who stole an Amazon Prime package and solve a homicide investigation with no other leads.

Now people can register their systems in Renton so officers know where and who has private cameras at a scene of a crime.

In one recent investigation of the shooting and killing of a young man, detectives tried to get word out through canvassing and social media to find information. Community Programs Coordinator Cyndie Parks was within days of releasing the registration system. Although it took up officer’s time, it was the footage found on a nearby camera that supported an arrest for a suspect.

Instead of walking around a neighborhood, looking, police can type in the address on a map and see where nearby cameras are. Officers will still ask to view the footage, but it takes finding them out of the equation.

The program is for both residential spots and businesses. Stores like the Highlands Food Mart 76 already offer footage to police regularly.

Owner Raja Khinda said he’s lost count of how many times he’s shown police store video, maybe twice a month. He said his door is open 24 hours for officers who need help with a case — they already know to look to his mart.

“The program definitely will help. (Officers) should know that people have cameras, and can ask. For mine, they’re already doing it and can keep on doing it,” Khinda said.

He thinks the registration might help officers contact camera owners, but he could see some finding it an invasion of privacy.

Some people think, and have expressed through social media, that officers can tap into their security systems with this program. They can’t, Parks said, and if someone feels uncomfortable they just don’t have to sign up.

If someone refused to share footage, their registration would not affect their normal rights in that situation.

Parks said they’ve probably never been turned down when asked for camera footage — generally people want to help.

“They want to deter criminal activity in their neighborhood, and see if what they have captured may help solve a case,” Parks said.

Within two hours of releasing this program on Dec. 13, they had almost 50 cameras registered. As of Dec. 20 more than 70 are registered.

So far, most signed up are private homeowners, Parks said.

The original Facebook post announcing the program had 61 shares and 139 reactions. Some commenters tagged other local police departments, telling them to follow along.

Parks got the idea from a presentation on a similar program and tweaked that format into something fit for Renton’s officers. Instead of keeping it on an excel spreadsheet, Parks had IT create an interactive map that officers can connect to on the road or in the station and see where cameras are and who to contact.

The map is not available to the public, she said, and only law enforcement can access that. Of course anyone can physically take steps to find out who owns certain security cameras, Parks said, but the program is meant to create a collaborative effort between system owner and officer.

Parks said they could not disclose which parts of Renton have received the most registration, so thieves won’t target particular areas. The department was also previously providing media with a snapshot of the map that is also no longer available.

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