Community's surveillance cameras are watching, helping police

Cocoa PD creates camera database to Get Results on Crime

Surveillance video shows up on News 6 all the time, but did you ever think about how it gets from a DVR or computer hard drive to an investigative case file?

It takes time. Lots of time. And lots of effort.

[MORE: Register for Community Camera program ]

There is no better evidence than surveillance video. But to find the video, a detective must first find the camera, then determine if the crime was recorded, then locate the owner of the footage, then figure out how to make a copy of that footage.

Cocoa Police Patrol Officer Anthony Colombo spends hours, days, sometimes weeks trying to track down surveillance footage and determine if a crime was caught on tape.

"We have to come up here, look around the building, then go inside, then speak to a manager," said Colombo. "A, do they have cameras? B, are they functioning? C, can we obtain it? One stop could take 15 minutes just trying to grab that information."

Colombo recently spent days looking for footage of a vehicle involved in a traffic homicide investigation.

"Just for that part of it, we had to go down Cocoa Avenue to 20 different businesses," said Colombo. "We tried to find video footage of the accident and the footage leading up to it."

Cocoa, like the rest of Brevard County, has also been working to counter a rash of car break-ins, where thieves go "car hopping," looking for unlocked vehicles and stealing valuables inside.

One solution - the "Community Camera Registration Program."

Cocoa Police encourage citizens to register their cameras, the address of the cameras, the direction in which they face, contact information for the owner, and even the format in which the footage records.

Colombo said knowing where the cameras are and which way they face would save him countless hours. It would also help him to identify a criminal sooner, potentially catch that criminal quicker, and get results on crime faster.

The Cocoa Police Department posted this description on its website:

"The new Community Camera Registration program allows residents and businesses an opportunity to provide information regarding private security cameras located throughout the city.  The information can be entered online via the police department's secure web page and is kept confidential. It allows department personnel to know in advance where private security cameras are located which can assist in evidence gathering during criminal investigations, suspicious incidents, missing persons investigations or other activity that may require police attention.
“Video is everything these days,” said Chief Mike Cantaloupe.  “If we know in advance where these cameras are located, it will certainly speed up our investigations and help us solve crimes.

"The information provided to the secure database will be kept confidential.  The primary goal of the city’s private security camera registration program is to afford residents and businesses an opportunity to voluntarily assist the Cocoa Police Department in deterring crime and promoting public safety.  It is part of a focused effort under the department’s Community Watch Program which promotes the national “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign."

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