BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s well known that surveillance video can help police solve crimes, but did you know that it can be difficult to obtain?
Bradenton police frequently have to send patrol officers to knock on doors and look up at buildings in an effort to find surveillance cameras while working criminal cases.
“Sometimes their camera systems aren’t working, or sometimes they’re dummy cams that are just put up for deterrents,” said Sgt. Anthony Cerniglia.
It’s an effort that takes up valuable time. So Bradenton police are hoping to resolve that with the new Safecam program.
The department is asking businesses and residents to voluntarily register their privately owned surveillance camera systems to help them identify suspects.
All the information is confidential and the police department will not have any access to the cameras without the owner’s permission.
“It helps keep our city safe,” said Sgt. Cerniglia.
The goal of the program is to have a database of the number of surveillance cameras in the city and their location.
That way, if a crime were to happen, police officers would know instantly whether any cameras were in the area. And if there were, they would know exactly who to contact to get permission to use the cameras.
Jess Jewelers was the first to join. The store has four cameras along a busy intersection.
“We’ve been asked several times by citizens if they could have access to our footage to help solve an argument between who hit who at the intersection,” said Darren Blum with Jess Jewelers.
Now that they’ve joined Safecam, Bradenton police know exactly where their cameras are located. So if a crime happens nearby, they’ll know immediately whether a camera may have spotted it.
Police emphasize that all information will be kept confidential and officers will still need the owner’s permission to access the video. But Safecam could help solve crimes faster.
“There’s a lot going on every day, and a lot of it goes unsolved and this just goes to be a neverending argument so a little bit of cooperation from citizens and merchants and I think we can get a lot done,” Blum said.
Participants can revoke police access to their systems at any time.
The police department is hopeful the city will step up and help out to help in future criminal cases.
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