YMCA security cameras.jpg

Dan Cassem of F.E. Moran prepares a security camera to be mounted on the Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign in March 2018. Danville police are looking to register similar cameras in their city to help with investigations.

Listen to this article

DANVILLE — Police are asking Danville residents and businesses to voluntarily register their exterior security cameras with the department to help officers solve crimes.

“In an effort to partner with our community, the camera-registration program would allow officers to quickly determine where footage of a crime may be captured, so they can review footage and begin the investigative process,” police Cmdr. Doug Miller said Wednesday.

The department has set up a form on the city’s website where residents and businesses can provide information about their exterior cameras, including the address, number of cameras and their location on buildings, how long video is retained, whether audio is captured and more. No one will have access to that information except police, the department said.

Miller said the cameras wouldn’t be used for active surveillance, and officers would not have direct access to homeowners’ cameras. The latter was a concern expressed by some aldermen when police commanders first discussed the idea at a city meeting earlier this summer.

As things stand now, when crimes take place, investigators will naturally get access to security footage from the victim’s property. But, Miller said, there are instances when a camera on another property — next door or even a few blocks away — catches useful information in identifying possible suspects, such as a vehicle description, license plate or suspect description.

Having those at their disposal can aid police in making an arrest or help in the investigation.

“It is a useful tool when it’s in place and available,” Miller said. “It’s not going to eliminate our canvassing of neighborhoods and face-to-face interaction with the public and all our other investigative techniques.”

Miller said there would be no added cost — to the police department, residents, businesses or other property owners who voluntarily register — and it may lead to building relationships between officers and community members.

Under this agreement, city corporation counsel Dave Wesner said, a police officer seeking to review a property owner’s security footage would not need a warrant or subpoena.

“The idea is to catch the criminals sooner rather than later,” he added.

Reporter

Tracy Crane is a Danville-based reporter for The News-Gazette. Her email is tcrane@news-gazette.com.