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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

May 2020 | Volume 13 | Issue 5

This month the Dispatch looks at property crime and how law enforcement agencies are integrating consumer technology systems into their crime-fighting efforts. Technologies such as doorbell camera and Advanced License Plate Reader networks enhance community policing by promoting collaboration with local citizens, corporations, and area businesses to prevent and solve crimes.

Millions of homeowners now have doorbell cameras, inspired by their potential to deter property crimes in an era of increased online commerce. Recognizing their value as investigative and prevention tools, a growing number of agencies are asking local doorbell camera owners to register these cameras with neighborhood watch networks. Some camera manufacturers even offer their products at a significant discount if purchasers agree to link to public safety networks. The advantage is that when crimes occur in the neighborhood, investigators can quickly and easily request footage from every camera owner in the area.

Privately-owned cameras equipped with license plate reading capabilities are another valuable addition to the law enforcement toolkit. License plate readers have long allowed officers to identify and easily track individuals suspected of crime and disorder within communities. Having this same capability embedded into privately-owned cameras registered with local agencies increases law enforcement’s ability to ensure the safety of communities.  

It is important to consider privacy concerns, but there is a lot of public support for these programs. Camera owners are increasingly sharing their camera footage and data in an effort to support police. The virtual neighborhood watch groups create a community between the many home and business owners who are interested in actively contributing to local public safety efforts.

On behalf of the COPS Office, I applaud everyone involved in these programs—the home and business owners, the corporations that produce the cameras and make them affordable, and the law enforcement agencies that have been creative in their efforts to enlist the help and support of their communities.

– Director Keith

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