ANGLETON — City police hope to work with community members who have video cameras on their property to solve crimes, without interfering with their privacy.
Anyone living in the Angleton area that has a video camera installed on their property is invited to enroll the “Residential Video Program” to aid police in investigations.
“This update will be a huge asset to be able to help protect the community,” Angleton Police Chief Aaron Ausmus said. “And this the first of many great updates, hopefully, if the budget allows.”
Any Angleton resident who is willing can sign up, Ausmus said.
“Now let me be clear with this, this is not a big brother thing; we are not signing in to people’s cameras,” Ausmus said. “It would still be a consensual action, giving us consent to view the footage they give us, upon their request.”
The program is a proactive measure for something police typically ask for after a crime.
“Most of the time people have cameras, and they show us what’s on their cameras,” Ausmus said. “This is just giving us a head start.”
Involving residents in police measures can prevent and solve crimes at a higher rate, he said.
“All of this is under the umbrella of a fully-integrated neighborhood watch system. The ultimate goal is to engage, equip and empower the citizenry in the fight against crime to both prevent it and solve it if it happens,” Ausmus said. “The bottom line is, with the police assistance program, we are doing what we can in this time to move forward in our goal to help more efficiently and effectively solve crimes.”
Coordinating the program has been easy, and provides Angleton citizens a great option, Angleton Police Sgt. Ernesto De Los Santos said.
“Basically, we are requesting citizens that have a video device outside of their homes, and we are just asking them to provide us some information as a telephone number, an address, an email address and where the camera is facing, be it the road, a garage, etc.,” De Los Santos said. “For example, if somebody lived on Molina Drive, we would look in the database and contact them via email or phone and see if they can share their video footage, or we can come over and we can look at it together.”
There is no remote access whatsoever to program participants’ cameras, De Los Santos said.
“The camera is just accessed through them, at their house, not by us, at all, and if they want to allow us to go to their house, we can do that,” De Los Santos said.
The program is already functioning to some success, De Los Santos said.
“We’ve had several people come forward with their information already to help,” De Los Santos said. “It just makes it a lot easier for investigators to be able to track the right information down.”
It saves time and resources for everyone, De Los Santos said.
“That way we don’t have to go door-to-door asking if people have video footage,” De Los Santos said. “That’s kind of the goal in all of this, to save time, resources and to get the community better involved in their neighborhoods.”
People can fill out a form on the Angleton police website to participate.
“You can fill out the form and email it to the listed email address, or you can bring up a copy to the police department,” De Los Santos said.