By Chris Maza
LONGMEADOW – In today’s digital age, police are finding private security and surveillance systems to be invaluable tools.
The recent search for an 11-year-old girl abducted in Springfield earlier this month may not have met a happy conclusion if not for the assistance of security cameras in the neighborhood according to law enforcement. In that case, surveillance footage was used to identify the vehicle involved and was passed on to the public. That identifying information proved crucial when citizens in the city recognized the vehicle and were able to alert authorities, who eventually arrested the suspect and was able to return the girl safely to her family.
Longmeadow police have likewise appreciated the value of these systems and are once again encouraging town residents to consider registering for its Camera Registration Program.
“A few years ago we implemented the program and it seems to be growing constantly,” Longmeadow Police Lt. Robert Stocks told the Longmeadow News. “We are finding surveillance cameras are becoming crucial for fighting crime. They’re essentially the new neighborhood watch if you will. The goal is for collaboration with the community to deter crime and increase safety. That’s our charge and it’s something we take very seriously.”
The Camera Registry Program allows citizens and business owners to register the location of their surveillance devices with the Police Department. In the event of a crime, law enforcement personnel would be able to identify nearby cameras in the area that might be able to provide valuable images and information for their investigations. Police personnel would then contact the registered owners and request an opportunity to see footage that might show evidence of a crime. The video obtained might be used in criminal proceedings.
“Even if there isn’t a clear image, the information on the videos might be able to help officers identify vehicles or individuals or even determine the time of day if a crime occurred but the timeline isn’t clear,” Stocks explained. “This can help us out in any kind of investigation, not just property crimes.”
Stocks acknowledged some may have fears of “Big Brother,” but said the department has no control over privately-owned cameras nor do they utilize them for real-time surveillance.
“That’s not the intent. This is strictly a look-back tool,” he said. “We don’t have access to cameras and we don’t want access to cameras. This is a voluntary program and residents can decide whether they want to share their footage.”
Registration is available through the Longmeadow Police Department page on the town’s website, www.longmeadow.org. For more information, residents are encouraged to contact Officer Mathew Chaplin at 567-3311, ext. 9172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.