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Are security cameras worth the cost? Here's what they can best be used for

The Turlock Police Department has also been encouraging people to register their home security cameras.
Credit: PHOTOGraphicss
CCTV Security Camera

Community partnerships with the local police can make a home video security system a powerful resource that can help both police officers and neighbors in the community.

As local police departments around the region encourage its local residents to help prevent crime through National Night Out, the Turlock Police Department has also been encouraging people to register their home security cameras.

“It’s all about being proactive and neighbors helping neighbors and working together so that we can combat the crime issues that are popping up in the various areas of Turlock,” said TPD Spokesman Sgt. Russ Holeman.

The program allows police to know what homes in the neighborhood have security cameras, so, if an incident occurs, the police know what homes they could communicate with to potentially receive video of the incident. However, TPD is not the only agency offering this kind of service.

Many police departments in the region have video registration programs set up that residents can volunteer to participate in.

1. Find out if your local police department has a program set up.

Both Turlock and Elk Grove Police Departments are using Crimereports.com for their registration system.

However, there are also programs available in Roseville, Vacaville, Folsom, Stockton, Fairfield, Davis, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, and many other places. Some have even been taking to social media to advocate their service for years.

While their specific programs and registration programs may differ between departments, these programs are set up to help prevent crime and provide records for the events as they occur.

2. Security cameras can function as a crime deterrent

According to the Fairfield Police Department, video evidence has been helpful in solving crimes, providing identification for criminals, and providing evidence in courts.

Alarms.org, the official site of the National Council for Home Safety and Security, says that these security cameras can deter criminals as they scope out homes for burglaries.

However, the site adds more determined and experienced burglars could potentially disarm or block visible security cameras. In this respect, the site suggests installing both visible and hidden security cameras to strengthen home security.

According to TPD Spokesman Sgt. Russ Holeman, a security camera could lessen the chance of having a home be burgled.

3. It’s a resource for police officers investigating crimes

“There’s a lot of information that can be captured off of the video, not just necessarily what may be shared with the public,” said Turlock Police Spokesman Sergeant Russ Holeman. “We’re seeing the before and the after of that portion and oftentimes that information is very helpful to us as well.”

While police could provide a general description of the suspect, the screen captures from a video clip can reveal specific details unique to the individual. Details like tattoos, unique clothing, and hairstyles that people could recognize are something officers could utilize in their investigations.

The information is not even limited to the scene of the crime. Cameras that capture the areas approaching the scene can also provide useful information. It shows the direction suspects came and went from, methods used to commit the crime, the kind of car they may have driven away in, and potentially a name if the screen capture is shared with the public.

4. It can help promote crime prevention services to the community

Many programs also provide promotional material for participating in the program. These include signs and stickers for residents to display.

“This material that we’re putting out there, it lets the neighbors know [about the program] because obviously not everyone is on our Facebook page or subscribed to our social media,” said Sgt. Holeman, “so they may be unaware of the program that we have out there, and this is a good way of getting the neighborhood talking about what we have to offer out to them and getting the conversation going.”

These are additional tools to advertise that the home has registered security features both to neighbors and potential criminals, which could potentially prevent criminal activity and property damage.

5. It’s an optional community partnership with your local police

“Obviously, the police can’t be everywhere at once... Sharing a piece of video is a very easy thing to do and letting us know that they have that information helps us solve those crimes that much quicker.”

These are voluntary community partnerships. Residents do not have to sign up to participate if they have no desire to do so.

While Sgt. Holmes encourages every Turlock resident to register their security cameras through the program, he also believes that any local police department could benefit from this kind of program.