MARION — In September 2019, the Marion Police Department unveiled a program inviting residents and businesses to register their surveillance camera systems so investigators know who might have footage when a crime occurs.
Cedar Rapids police had unveiled a similar initiative six months earlier in March 2019.
The goal, according to Marion police, was to create a database of camera locations so investigators could easily see what cameras are in an area and request that video.
“Surveillance video plays a large role in many of today’s investigations,” Marion Police Lt. Scott Elam told The Gazette at the time. “We could be talking about a shoplifting incident, all the way up to a homicide.”
In the first few weeks after the program was unveiled, roughly 60 businesses and residents had registered their cameras, and the department voiced optimism that the program would continue to grow.
“I think, in general, people want what is best for their communities, and this is one way they can step up and help,” Elam told The Gazette last year. “We can’t do it alone. We can’t solve crimes by ourselves. We rely on the public — and we are pretty lucky to have such great community support — and this is another way to help.”
What’s happened since
The camera registration program has more than doubled in the past year, Marion Public Information Officer Tom Daubs said.
“We now have 137 in Marion,” he said. “And the registrants are a mix of local businesses and private residences.”
Daubs said the registrants are spread out across all parts of the city.
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So far, he added, the registry has saved investigation time by allowing investigators to concentrate their efforts elsewhere.
As an example, Daubs said officers referred to the registry many times in early September when they were investigating roughly seven vehicle burglaries and thefts.
“While the cameras did not contain any video that helped us out, the camera owners were very responsive and willing to assist,” Daubs said. “Being able to contact them by phone, or via email, was a huge time saver during the investigations.”
Daubs said the department hopes the camera registry will continue to grow.
“I think ultimately, we’d like to see everyone in Marion sign up,” he said. “But, no matter how many sign up we’re happy with that. It’s just kind of a nice gesture of teamwork between the community and the department.”
And for those camera owners who are on the fence?
“I think one thing I would say to those questioning whether to register their cameras is, ‘what if you are the victim of a crime? What if someone broke into your house or stole your car? Wouldn’t you want to have people with cameras registered, so that we could try to figure out who did it?”
Camera owners can register their devices through the Marion Police Department’s website.
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