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The Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office wants residents to register their home security cameras with authorities, just in case a crime occurs within range. The idea is to help police track down suspects that may be caught on camera in the act of committing a crime.
It sounds harmless enough, even helpful. Yet there’s something about being on a police list of residents with known surveillance cameras that could understandably make some folks nervous.
The program essentially invites citizens to participate in investigating possible crimes by turning over their footage to police, according to the Rochester Post-Bulletin.
There are eyes everywhere, and Goodhue County Sheriff Marty Kelly wants to know how to find them.
The sheriff’s office is asking residents in Goodhue County to voluntarily register their security cameras – everything from business security cameras to doorbell cameras on homes – to build a database of where those helpful eyes are located.
“People are getting those Ring doorbells and cameras,” Kelly said. “And that is a big tool for crime solving. If people are willing to share their footage and a house is down the block is burglarized, it can give us a lead on a vehicle or a suspect.”
As much as anything, it could be viewed as a way to make the cops’ job easier, saving them the time and trouble of going door to door hunting for potential surveillance footage to speed up an investigation. The department goes out of the way to reassure residents that the cameras would not be connected to or controlled by the authorities in any way.
Goodhue County Deputy Jen Hofschulte said it’s important the public not have any misconceptions about the program. For example, the sheriff’s office would not have direct access to any videos or cameras.
“People were concerned we’d actually have access to their cameras,” Hofschulte said of questions that have been asked by the public. Instead, the sheriff’s office would simply compile the list of where cameras were located. “What this information does is let us know who to ask.”
The city of Rochester implemented a similar registration program in 2016, signing up more than 200 participants. KAAL-TV featured the pilot project in a report on an armed robbery.
Back in February the Rochester Police Department rolled out a new program called Securonet. The program is a partnership between police and businesses or homeowners where they can register their security cameras.
“Either by pointing us in the right direction or providing us with a vehicle description, its information that would normally be out there but we wouldn’t even know about,” said Sherwin.
Rochester dropped the surveillance camera sign-up after the city’s provider went out of business. But Goodhue County authorities say it’s a tool that could not only help solve but also to prevent crimes if the bad guys realize they may be on candid camera.
“We’re not always there when you need a police officer or deputy,” Kelly said. “But I’m looking forward to when we have our first case solved by one of these cameras.”