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Phoenix police asking homeowners, businesses to register security cameras

PHOENIX — Home and business security camera footage could soon play a bigger role in fighting crime in Phoenix under a voluntary police registration program.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Vince Lewis said business and homeowners in the Maryvale and Estrella Mountain precincts are being asked to sign up for the Virtual Block Watch program in an effort to curb crime and solve cases.

“That video evidence could be crucial in solving a crime that takes place in your neighborhood,” he said. “If your system catches a suspicious vehicle in its camera view that could be of use.”

Lewis said the camera program could be used as a launching point for complex investigations, such as the unsolved Serial Street Shooter, who killed seven people last year.

“Had this program been around, it quite possibly could’ve given us more information,” he said. “This is yet another tool for our toolbox.”

Under the program, officers wouldn’t be given unlimited access to the cameras.

“We don’t have live feed access to watch what’s going on,” Lewis said. “We’re giving our detectives a snapshot view, a bread crumb trail could have been left behind digitally by a suspect and we would put that together using this program.”

Lewis said the names of the camera owners would not be involved in investigations.

“You will have to register your name but that information is protected within our servers,” he said, adding that it differs slightly from the anonymous tip program Silent Witness in that “we will be asking for contact information and location.”

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