Red Deer RCMP say a surveillance camera registry launched in July has had more than 50 per cent more registrations than initially expected.
The voluntary database allows Red Deer businesses and homeowners to register their security cameras in a database, to potentially assist in police investigations.
“So they can list the cameras they have, the direction they point and what intersection they face, and then the investigators will contact the registrant should someone come up and ask them to review their footage,” Staff Sgt. Jay Peden explained, adding police can’t actually access the cameras directly.
If an incident happens, Red Deer RCMP can view the list of camera locations, and contact the registered camera owners to make a request for the images or footage.
“We at no time have any access to any live footage or recorded footage unless the registrant provides it to us. So it’s not a matter of Big Brother. They’re the owner of the camera. It’s private property. It’s their footage.”
Community Assisted Policing Through Use of Recorded Evidence, or CAPTURE, launched in July and is the first such online registry involving the RCMP. It came as a result of the agency’s performance plan with the City of Red Deer.
People who have business surveillance or residential cameras, including indoor, outdoor and doorbell cameras, can register at reddeercapture.ca.
“We’re seeing businesses range from these industrial-type businesses and industrial areas to businesses in our downtown core. And then the residential side of it, we are seeing all across the city – some of the areas that may have been affected a little more by property crime, we’re seeing more people registering in those areas.
“Kind of cliche, but it’s all over the map.”
Peden said the website took a couple of years to launch.
“The reason why it took two years is just the different levels of authorization, that permission that they need to get through privacy commission, through RCMP, through different levels like that.”
Peden said based on numbers from other communities with similar registries, a goal of having 100 properties signed up in the first year was set.
“And as October, we broke that 100 mark,” said, adding as of Wednesday morning 162 properties were signed up and the goal has been upped to 200.
The database is still in its infancy and Peden said so far it hasn’t directly led to solving a crime yet, but he is confident there will be success stories — especially in industrial areas.
“What we’re looking for it is for it to expedite our investigations — so we know that we can call certain citizens or registrants to get the footage, or for them to check the footage to see if we can advance an investigation a little more timely.”
Peden said those who register can also remove themselves from the website if they no longer want to be part of the program.
“So we’re trying to stay ahead of the curve that way and make it more secure and try to keep in line with people’s personal privacy.”
The registry isn’t just for fighting crime – it’s also expected to help find missing people like children who run away and people with dementia or Alzheimer’s are prone to wandering.
“It’s not just a crime tool. There is a humanitarian side.”