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Phoenix police's virtual block watch program helping solve crimes around the Valley

Posted at 8:24 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-08 22:28:18-05

With surveillance systems being used more often to help thwart crime, Phoenix police have created a program to assist investigators by pooling camera feeds to one accessible system. 

"We as members of the community may be on camera as many as 72 times in a day, without even knowing," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Vince Lewis. 

But along with capturing law abiding citizens, cameras might also capture those who would rather test it. 

Neighborhood vandalism, theft, burglaries and home invasions all find themselves on the internet and at times in the hands of police. 

Phoenix Police now want to know if people's cameras are rolling during these crimes around the city. 

"We have a little over 250 registered participants in our Virtual Block Watch Program," said Sgt Lewis. 

A program that lets people voluntarily register the number, locations, and angles of their surveillance cameras with police. 

"You're going to maintain all of your own footage, your going to maintain your own system," said Sgt Lewis. "We just want to know if you have one rolling if a crime occurs."

Police can see a map in the program, which shows their web of cameras all over the valley. 

Once a crime goes down, investigators can see which cameras are operating in that area without even leaving the office. 

A simple phone call to the camera owner could potentially provide crime solving evidence. 

"This is just another added layer of investigative ability," said Sgt Lewis. 

Phoenix PD recently landed their biggest participant yet with Circle K and its hundreds of Valley locations.  

While businesses have been eager to get on board, homeowners have been hesitant due to the misconception that police can tap into the camera in real time, which isn't the case. 

"We don't have access to the feed," said Sgt Lewis. 

How much is seen will depend on the camera owner, not police.

Police will have your name, contact information, and address. They'll also ask to know where it points. 

The program began in March of 2017 and is steadily growing. If you would like to register your cameras or want more information click here.