Napa Cams

This sign at Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Napa alerts pedestrians to nearby surveillance cameras.

So a crime happened in your neighborhood. You want to help law enforcement track the responsible people down, but you didn’t witness it.

Maybe your security cameras did.

The American Canyon Police Department and Napa County Sheriff’s want locals to register their security cameras and help officers solve crimes.

The database would not give law enforcement direct access to a camera’s footage, but would allow officers to keep a list of which homes or businesses have security cameras. Investigators may then follow up with residents or businesses near the site of a crime to request footage that could help catch the person involved.

Security camera databases are a growing trend in law enforcement, according to an article in GovTech, a trade publication on technologies used by government agencies. Police told the publication that affordable home surveillance systems have changed the way officers investigate and aid officers investigating crime in neighborhoods.

While the Napa Police Department does not have an equivalent database of security cameras at homes or businesses throughout the city yet, a registration program should be available soon, said Capt. Pat Manzer in an email.

Napa Police do, however, use security cameras to investigate crime in other ways. In March, it launched NapaCAMS, or community awareness management system.

The program allows police to tap into live feeds of cameras at businesses in downtown Napa and monitor the area without being there. NapaCAMS aided in the investigation of several cases so far, including the arrests of a serial arsonist and sexual assault at BottleRock, said Napa Police Officer Aaron Medina.

Saving officers time

American Canyon opened its database in January, said city spokesperson Jennifer Kansanback, who works closely with the city’s Neighborhood Watch Program.

Officers investigating crimes would often ask whether any security cameras were nearby. People were happy to share their footage, so the city decided to create a form that allowed people to share the location of their cameras and simultaneously sign up for the Neighborhood Watch program, she said.

About 50 people have signed up, and there have been two or three cases in which police have used the database to investigate a crime, officials said.

Registrants are not required to share their footage with police.

“It saves a little bit of time for officers on the ground,” Kansanback said. They “don’t have to go hunting around.”

The city collaborated with the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, and shared its form and process in keeping security camera information.

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office did not make anyone available to speak about its program, which began in mid-July.

People with cameras in unincorporated Napa County can sign up online at bit.ly/3351oHr. People with cameras in American Canyon can sign up at bit.ly/2YkY9wS.

Anyone with questions about the Sheriff’s Office’s program may call 707-253-4440.

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Public Safety Reporter

Courtney Teague is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She can be reached at 707-256-2221. You can follow her reporting on Twitter and Facebook, or send her anonymous tip at: tinyurl.com/anonymous-tipbox-courtney.