The Henderson Police Department started a community video surveillance program June 7 designed to apprehend Henderson-area night crawlers and quickly solve neighborhood crimes.
C.A.P.T.U.R.E., which stands for Community Awareness Program Through Utilizing Residential (Electronic) Eyes, connects police officers with citizens who have surveillance video of a potential crime. By registering camera systems with the Police Department, residents allow officers to view their footage. This community surveillance program is the first of its kind in the Las Vegas Valley.
“The old-school trend is that crime is a police problem,” said public-information officer Scott Williams, who came up with the idea for C.A.P.T.U.R.E. this year. “People are starting to realize there isn’t a cop on every corner; we’re not like New York City. It takes a partnership between police and community.”
Williams said it’s this partnership that inspires people to be in charge of their neighborhoods, and that’s when the Police Department sees the greatest success in reducing crime. With this in mind, officers are encouraging residents to install surveillance systems. The cost of an average surveillance system is around $500, depending on the quality of the cameras used.
In its first 48 hours, C.A.P.T.U.R.E. had more than 200 registrations, Williams said.
Henderson has historically been noted as a town of little crime: Forbes Magazine named it the second-safest city in America in 2011, behind Plano, Texas.
Inspirada Neighborhood Watch volunteer Marc Manzanares said C.A.P.T.U.R.E. “streamlines and should make the apprehension of criminals faster because the Police Department knows who to reach out to if there was a crime committed in the area that has a surveillance system.”
He acknowledged that some Inspirada residents expressed concern about the possibility of invasion of privacy. According to a news release, participants’ surveillance footage will never be made public, and they can opt out at any time.
American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story said while it’s the residents’ choice to give up their privacy, Henderson police should stipulate that footage from outward-facing cameras should not be used in the program, as it violates the privacy rights of any person walking down the street.
“It’s one thing if you want to give up your own privacy; it’s another if you’re violating the privacy of others,” Story said. “This crosses the line into neighbors surveilling one another, and the Police Department shouldn’t be encouraging that. Where does that stop?”
Dennis Shove of Henderson saw the C.A.P.T.U.R.E. program advertised on the Police Department’s Facebook page and shared the same worry.
“My concern was residents taking it too far and thinking they were police themselves,” Shove said. “I read a few comments about residents walking the streets and checking on suspicious-looking vehicles, putting residents in danger of getting hurt themselves.”
Many of these residents already own surveillance equipment, but police aren’t often aware crucial video footage of a crime exists, Williams said.
Once someone is registered with C.A.P.T.U.R.E., an icon will appear to represent that individual on police mapping systems, which officers review in their patrol cars. In the pursuit of a suspect, officers can identify the nearest owner of a surveillance camera and contact him or her to obtain footage.
“If the crime is bad enough, then it needs to be made known to help catch the criminal,” said Henderson resident Jeremy Arnold, who recently registered for the program. “C.A.P.T.U.R.E. is a great tool that we can use to do our part.”
The map of participants This map will also is available to investigators searching for a lead.
“Ten years ago, there was a time when I could patrol city neighborhoods,” Williams said. “We just can’t do that now. We’re understaffed. We don’t have as many officers. And we’re a growing city.”
The department also has teamed with residents online via social network site Nextdoor, reaching 40,000 memberships in one year. Nextdoor members register online with their verified address and are then connected with Nextdoor users in their area to discuss community issues and safety.
“Nothing goes unnoticed in Henderson,” Williams said. “People love to report crime and suspicious activity, and they take crime seriously here: the eyes-on-the-street concept.”
To register for C.A.P.T.U.R.E., residents can fill out an online form or request that one be mailed to their home. Participants receive a C.A.P.T.U.R.E. reflective sticker. To learn more about the program and register, click here.