At least once in the recent past, a private security camera has helped the Kansas City, Missouri police department solve a violent crime in the Historic Northeast.
East Patrol Captain Ryan Mills told the Northeast News that “very valuable information” was recently provided to the department by a private citizen enrolled in the Watch KC program, a community partnership where residents offer KCPD access to their privately-owned security footage. The strictly voluntary program provides KCPD with a list of security camera throughout the city, which the department subsequently maps out for detectives and officers to quickly reference. If a crime is committed near a registered camera, officers will go to the property owner and ask for permission to view the footage.
“It’s a relatively new program that has gained a lot of momentum here recently and has already proven to be successfully, particularly in the Northeast area,” Mills said.
In the near future KCPD is hoping to entice even more area residents to enroll in the Watch KC program, which as of early November had over 200 registrants. Anyone interested in participating is simply asked to fill out an online form, which can be found at kcmo.gov/police/watchkc.
“All they do is just tell us where they have a camera at,” Mills said. “For us, it’s free information, really.”
Mills reiterated that the program is strictly voluntary, and that the department will not be able to see live footage of anyone’s cameras. Additionally, Mills indicated that any participant’s personal information will remain confidential.
“We don’t share their information; we keep that very confidential,” said Mills. “It will only be used for law enforcement purposes.”
Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT) Director Mary Cyr is a proponent of the Watch KC program, and recently forwarded information about the program to neighborhood leaders throughout the Northeast. Cyr said that area residents can help the police department by remembering the times when they see or hear suspicious activity, checking their camera footage regularly, and keeping an open dialogue with KCPD.
“We can use private security cameras to help the police solve and prevent crimes,” Cyr said.
Though information about the Watch KC program is available online, Cyr noted that the Northeast Chamber of Commerce has also printed out roughly 200 informational packets for neighborhood leaders to pass around in their communities.
“It’s just part of what we do. We are a big supporter of community policing, and this is just another piece of it,” Cyr said. “There’s just so much gunfire going on, that it would be nice to catch some of these people.”