October is National Crime Prevention Month, and this can be a good time for facility management and security personnel to join ranks with law enforcement to help them more efficiently identify and apprehend suspects. Many local law enforcement departments have video surveillance registration programs where businesses and residents can voluntarily enter their video surveillance systems into a database so police can easily identify cameras that may have captured footage from a crime. This saves precious time when trying to get a criminal off the street, because police don’t have to spend as much time canvassing an area for video footage.
“Every day there are countless news reports using footage from surveillance cameras to help detect, identify, and apprehend suspected criminals,” says Angela White, president of the Electronic Security Association (ESA), a professional trade association in the United States representing the electronic life safety, security and integrated systems industry. “Video surveillance functionalities and security technologies used in both residential and commercial settings are continuously evolving. From facial recognition capabilities to auto-zoom and tracking, these features can go a long way in supporting local law enforcement investigations.”
Recently, law enforcement officials were able to apprehend a man who violently killed the 70-year-old widow of a pastor in Somerset, KY, due in part to video surveillance. When the suspect walked past the door of ESA Member Company, Modern Systems, the company’s video surveillance cameras automatically zoomed-in and tracked his movements on the property. David Morris, president of Modern Systems, located in Somerset, KY identified the suspect when reviewing footage and reported it to police. According to news reports, the suspect was later arrested in Tennessee and has confessed to the murder.
“We encourage residents and businesses to contact their local law enforcement office to determine if a video surveillance database has been established in their community — and if so, enter their video surveillance system into the database,” White says. “Video surveillance footage from homes and businesses has been especially critical in solving crimes from random burglaries to kidnappings, murders and terrorist attacks.”
When installing a video surveillance system, White recommends using high-resolution video cameras and testing the angle of the cameras regularly. This helps ensure the cameras are always pointing in the most advantageous direction to capture activity at entryways and other critical areas of a property. It is also important to review the quality of the video throughout the year to make sure the resolution is optimized. Seasonal lighting changes can affect the quality of the video feed. More tips can be found on the ESA resource, Alarm.org.