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Neighborhood Watch Webcams

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 57 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2009 Pages: 52-56
Brian Vizzusi
Date Published
October 2009
5 pages
This article provides guidance on the benefits, planning, and implementation of a Neighborhood Watch program that includes the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) systems.
Harnessing the effectiveness of Neighborhood Watch with the use of CCTV systems can deter and detect some crime in public places and enhance the value of both types of programs if used in a public-private partnership between residents and their police. One of the traditional objections to police remote monitoring has been "the government" watching the activities of citizens. Under the proposed system, rather than having police watching public areas, neighbors can watch over one another and only involve "the government" in cases where there is a need for police intervention. In planning and implementing such a system, this article advises police managers to educate police personnel, community members, community leaders, and other key stakeholders about the benefits and challenges of implementing such a system. This new model of policing neighborhoods first involves the development of a strong network of Neighborhood Watch groups. The second part consists of connecting neighbors with neighbors, and citizens with police through a Webcam system that would deter and detect crime while assisting in the apprehension of criminals through video images of persons committing crimes. In times of declining economies, a Neighborhood Watch-based Webcam system can help offset the negative effects of reduced policing resources. Although Webcams cost money, they are less expensive than funding police personnel and surveillance patrols. A one-position camera system can be purchased and installed for less than $5,000, much less than the cost of a fully equipped police officer. Among the suggestions offered in the article are to identify where the cameras are to be placed, set a policy for how they are to be used, and measure the system's effectiveness.