By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
The Community Watch Team is an initiative being introduced by the Police Department.
Citizens can volunteer to register their external video surveillance cameras on a database. Should a crime happen in your neighborhood, the department may contact you to ask if you see something unusual on your footage. If yes, the department may ask to have that piece of footage to aid their investigation, but you are not required to hand it over.
Bristol Chief of Police, Brian Gould, said he found some police departments in the southern and western parts of the nation that utilize similar style programs. After doing some research, he was able to combine aspects of different programs to “create something” “great for the City of Bristol.”
With the technological advances of video surveillance, Gould said he noticed more and more people purchasing and installing these systems.
“I started seeing more and more people are getting these systems out there and a lot of people are capturing things on their systems, crimes that they don’t even know happened,” said Gould. “So, by creating this database, it allows you to register your system with us, and if there is a crime that is occuring or occurred in your area, such as we’ve seen an increase in thefts of motor vehicles, this is something we may be able to look at our registry in the neighborhood that the incident happened and be proactive in reaching out to the homeowner to say, ‘Can you check your system to see if you have anything on it?’ And if they do have something on it, would they be willing to allow us to come and view it, and possibly take that portion for evidence to search for, arrest and, possibly prosecute the offender.”
Gould said it’s important to remember that this program is voluntary and if you do register your cameras, the department has no control over it, nor are you mandated to hand over footage.
“I want to make this very clear: this is a volunteer program. We would not have any control or any access to your system,” said Gould. “We’re not looking to take control of anybody’s camera, you’re just informing us that you have a video system.”
For more information, or to register your camera, visit the Community Watch Team website, http://ct-bristol2.civicplus.com/927/Video-Camera-Registration.