OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Old Orchard Beach Police are asking residents and business owners with surveillance cameras to partner with the police department in an initiative to help solve crimes and make Old Orchard Beach a safer community.

There are many surveillance camera systems installed at residences and businesses across town. If a crime occurs nearby a private surveillance system, the system’s security camera may capture valuable information that could help solve the crime, said police in a written statement.

People who have such systems may not realize their camera has captured footage that could be helpful to police, and likewise, police may not be aware that a surveillance camera exists near where an alleged crime has occurred.

“Video surveillance is one of the best methods of apprehending criminals and convicting suspects who are caught in the act of committing a crime,” Old Orchard Beach police said.

Police are asking people who have surveillance systems to register with the department. As officers respond to incidents of crime in the community, they may be able to use footage taken from nearby security cameras to assist in the apprehension and prosecution of the criminals involved.

If a registered security camera is identified as being near a reported crime location, police may request that the owner view the footage or allow them to in order to assist in an investigation.

Similar programs have been initiated in other communities across the country, and York became the first police department in the state to partner with video-doorbell company Ring in a similar program that is part of a nationwide push to encourage Ring users to offer their privately recorded video to police to help to solve crimes.

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine urged caution against connecting private companies that collect vast troves of data on American consumers with police departments, raising possible privacy and information security concerns, saying private companies are profiting from creating a climate of fear.

Ring sells an internet-connected door bell device equipped with a camera that can stream live video to a homeowner’s cellphone, computer or tablet, or record an event and provide it to homeowners for later viewing.

As part of their service, Ring provides a free app, Neighbor, which does not require the purchase of a doorbell camera. The app functions like a technology-driven neighborhood watch program in which Ring users can post videos of suspicious people or activity recorded on their devices.

Under the agreement, York police investigating a crime can send a request for assistance to Ring users in geographic areas. Ring users can send video clips to police, but are not obligated to do so.

Old Orchard Beach residents who wish to register for the department’s program can go to: oobmaine.com/police-department and click on the “camera initiative” tab or contact Detective Corporal Jeffrey Regan at 207-937-5838 or [email protected]

 

Liz Gotthelf — 207-780-9015

[email protected]

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