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IMPD surveillance program would use cameras of businesses, residents

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — IMPD plans to launch a project to crack down on crime by tapping into surveillance cameras of cooperating businesses and homeowners.

The department is working to finalize details and line up camera owners who want to volunteer them, with plans to roll out the program by the end of the year, according to IMPD Chief Bryan Roach. 

When officers arrive at crime scenes, police say it’s often too late to spot a suspect. If they’re lucky, officers will gain access to some video evidence to help in the investigation. The new program would allow police to watch a crime as it’s committed. 

According to Roach, police will only be able to tap into those cameras if an individual calls 911 with an emergency.

“We have people at the center that would be able to pull up all those cameras and give information to the officers before they arrive, maybe provide a little more safe atmosphere for those that are inside,” said Roach. 

Roach said the program could help officers prepare before they walk into a crime scene. If a suspect flees, investigators would have a better idea of which direction they went and a better description of any vehicle involved.

IMPD already has access to dozens of city cameras set up around Indianapolis, along with those used by INDOT.

If a suspect flees the scene of a robbery, for example, police could use a business owner’s cameras to pick up his or her direction of travel, moving onto city cameras and INDOT cameras to keep track of the suspect until he or she is in custody. Roach said the program could also help in prosecuting suspects. 

“It helps us ID people that were there. If you manage those cameras correctly, you can get a license plate. If you manage the lighting properly, you have proper illumination,” said Roach. 

WISH-TV’s Julian Grace first reported on police using private surveillance cameras in this way two years ago. Grace traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, where a similar system is already in place. 

Before IMPD officially rolls out this program, they plan to educate the public on what you need to do if you would like to participate.

Along with high quality cameras, participants would need to have high-speed internet and sufficient cloud-based storage space. IMPD also plans to help participants with camera placement and lighting.