Saturday, June 10, 2006

Webcam Army

I've been thinking about a way the average citizen could help fight crime beyond being a nosy neighbor. One thought is for web savvy citizens to purchase webcams and point them toward the street. I can see a registry where anyone could hit the webcam on a street and view what's there. If a citizen is having problems with drug dealers and gang bangers doing their deeds in the middle of the street, they could point the webcam that way and send me an email. I'll see to it that the police get the link to the webcam. I would also be amenable to hosting the camera registry until I could get someone at the MPD to take it over.

Thoughts anyone?



autoegocrat said...

Sounds similar to the NWS home weather stations, or SETI@Home.

I got a nice night-vision closed-circuit camera from eBay for $30. The tech is cheap enough, and it's widely available.

John Harvey said...

Great, would you be willing to point it out towards the street? I've got several D-Link wireless cameras here at home, but pointing them outside would only reveal my pond and some geese.


autoegocrat said...

No street to see, only a parking lot. As it happens, there used to be a gang of car thieves that came around, but it was guns, not cameras, that scared them off.

John Harvey said...

Well, I've always been an adovcate of using the right tool for the right job. Sounds like the guns worked!

John Harvey said...

Citizens Unite, get those webcams ASAP!

Is this timely or what. . . The CA has an article today on a minister who installed webcams in his house and now some of the footage is being used to help solve a murder. Here's the story:
Home security cameras aid in solving crime

June 13, 2006 05:14 PM CDT

Crimes on Tape: Brooke Sanders

If you're in front of Pastor D.R. Ballew's house, he can see what you're up to. Ballew installed surveillance cameras in his home after thieves stole his tools.

"I lost over $4,000 of equipment," he said. "Stealing it right out of my truck, off that trailer, out of my back yard, even went in the side rooms while I was asleep."

It cost Ballew several hundred dollars to install 8 cameras, motion detectors, and an alarm monitor the outside of his house.

"Since I put it in, I haven't had anymore thefts whatsoever," he said.

Still, his system has proved to be a useful tool, even catching the aftermath of a murder across the street from his home. Authorities say tapes like this can be helpful to police.

"If it's dated and the time is maintained it can give investigators a tool," said Sgt. Vince Higgins, spokesperson for the Memphis Police Department.

Home surveillance is becoming more popular. Jeff Britt, manager of a local hardware store, said cameras are available for as little as $30.

"It runs off telephone line, you run that into your home," Britt said. "It splits off telephone line into which goes into an audio/video cable that runs directly into the back of any television you can buy since 1995."

Britt added many of his customers say cameras add security you can't put a price on. Meanwhile, Memphis Police officials emphasize that while cameras are a valuable tool, citizens should never try to chase or in anyway stop a criminal.

Dollar-a-year Deputy said...

Hey LT.

Here's another thought on webcams.. of course it'd only be for those willing and assumingly with a broadband connection of some sort.

a resident has a webcam at xxxx any st.
communications receives a call in the area, or even a residential alarm at that location. with a registered cam(s), communications can pull up the cameras from the console and view the area to see any activity, and possibly get a suspect/vehicle description to relay to responding cars. think something like that would work? anyone?

John Harvey said...

Yes, that's the idea except we would also host a webcam registry where anyone could monitor the camera. In your scenario, say the citizen says there are drug dealers hanging on the street, he could point the webcams toward them and give us a call.
The police would be able to see the dealers on their laptops or pda's using their wireless cards before they ever got to the scene. They would also know better how to approach the scene and if the dealers ran, they would know their direction of travel and possibly even get vehicle information.

It is a very workable idea.