The Smyrna Police Department now has another tool it believes will help officers investigating crimes around the city.
Following the lead of other police departments around the metro area and the country, Smyrna police have begun the Smyrna View program, which allows residents to register their home security cameras and security systems with the police department. If officers are investigating a crime in an area, Smyrna police will check the registry to see if there’s a registered camera in the vicinity that may hold footage of the crime.
If a system is registered, police spokesman Sgt. Louis Defense said an officer will reach out to the resident and ask if he or she can review the system to see if anything was recorded during a specific time. Registered participants can accept or decline the police department’s request to access their footage, Defense said.
“It’s completely voluntary if you want to share it,” he said.
Smyrna View launched a little more than a month ago and already has about 25 residences participating, Defense said.
In conjunction with the roll-out of Smyrna View, the department has also purchased four Flock license-plate-reading cameras that are placed at “very busy points” around the city. Defense said Smyrna police spent about $8,000 on the four license plate cameras.
The solar-powered cameras are installed on utility poles and scan vehicle license plates as cars pass them. Officers are notified when the system detects a license plate from a vehicle reported as stolen or if the plate itself has been stolen.
License plate readers have become more commonly used by metro Atlanta police departments. Police in Marietta, DeKalb County, Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Milton and Cobb County have all signed on to plans to use license plate readers sold by Flock.
Defense said he decided to create Smyrna’s version of a camera registry program after hearing positive feedback from his counterparts in Marietta and Cobb County about their respective programs. The database, which did not cost the department any money to create, is only viewable to the police department’s crime analyst, a major and Defense, who also is the agency’s crime prevention officer.
Defense said both of these systems have helped the department solve crimes, the most notable of which was the case of two men armed with a machete who allegedly robbed three pharmacies last month — one in Smyrna and two in south Cobb. Police were able to list information about the suspects’ vehicle into the National Crime Information Center’s database, which was shared with the Flock license plate camera system. Flock sent out an alert about the car’s last location to the department.
Defense said the Smyrna View home security camera program is another example of the department’s desire to partner with residents to fight crime. The registry also cuts down on the amount of time police spend trying to track down a resident with a camera system that could help solve a case.
“We’re learning from best practices and we are trying to find different ways of engaging our communities to solve crime,” he said.
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