Kent Police have a new tool to investigate crime, but it depends on the cooperation of residents and businesses.

With the increasing use of private video security systems, including doorbell cameras, the police department announced on social media Tuesday that it was launching a “community surveillance camera program.”

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“I announced it this morning on our [Facebook] page and there have already been four registrations in the last two hours and it certainly seems to be attracting attention on social media, ”Kent Police Lt. Mike Lewis said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the post had 47 likes and nine shares.

The voluntary program is simple. People who have security cameras outside their home or business are encouraged to access an online form, accessible through the Police Department’s webpage at https: //www.kentohio. org / 163 / Police, and to answer a few questions. Lewis said the department hopes this will create a database of individuals and businesses that he can contact to obtain video evidence potentially useful in an investigation of an incident in the area, such as vehicle theft or car theft. assaults and fights in the downtown business district.

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“From that recording and that registry list, when we look for footage from potential surveillance cameras in this area, we have a place to start,” Lewis said. “We have a list of people we can contact and we can ask them to check their CCTV systems between a specific time period and see if there might be anything of probative value.”

Kent Police have said security video, such as that provided by doorbell cameras like this, could become even more useful in investigations, thanks to a new registry of businesses and residents keen to provide such images.

Lewis said collecting video evidence has been something police have been doing for some time, but it makes it easier.

“We can apply and it was kind of old fashioned investigative work where we sometimes had to go door to door and ask residents or businesses if they had a surveillance camera that could help us. be useful and it’s just going to be a much, much more efficient way to get that video footage, ”he said.

Lewis said the information people provide when registering will be kept as confidential as legally possible.

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He also said that signing up for the program does not require anyone to provide a video.

“Their video is theirs at all times and they can refuse to provide it if they wish,” he said.

Lewis said he was unaware of any Portage County law enforcement agency with such a program, but the program exists elsewhere, including the Greeley Police Department in Colorado and the County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado. Crow Wing in Minnesota.

“It’s new to us,” Lewis said. “It’s not something we’ve done before. We have seen this program in other police services and we have heard that it has been successful elsewhere. So this is something we are excited to try in the town of Kent.

Lewis recalled a resident last year who mentioned to a police officer on a call that he had a doorbell camera facing the street and that this could be useful in any future investigation within the development of the resident.

“We think it’s a great program and it’s a great way for people to get involved,” said Lewis. “We often have city residents asking for ways to get involved and if they can keep their community safe. We think that’s one of the best ways they can do it… it’s something we’ve had in mind for quite some time and we’re excited to finally put it into use.

Journalist Jeff Saunders can be contacted at [email protected]

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