Police say it could make it easier for them to fight crime. Some residents worry about their privacy.
The Police Chief is instituting a new program in the Brass City aimed at helping his investigators solve crimes quicker and to boost safety in Waterbury. The department is asking residents to register their home security cameras and business owners to do the same with security, or surveillance cameras they may have on their businesses.
“This registration would allow us to search a database when a crime occurs in the city almost instantly,” said Chief Fernando Spagnolo.
Two incidents immediately come to mind — one of them happened almost exactly one year ago. A child was hit by a car while he was running across the street to catch his school bus. The driver took off and fled the scene. It was an incident that sparked outrage across the city.
“He treated my nephew like he was garbage,” said Ronnie Gardoza, the victim’s uncle.
For weeks, no one came forward with any information. Then, the owners of a nearby store came forward with surveillance video captured by one of their security cameras that showed the make, model, and color of the car. That eventually helped lead to the suspect’s capture.
“I felt really good that police — they did their job,” Gardoza said.
Chief Spagnolo says another incident also shows why this program is needed. Last year, surveillance video caught a man firing shots into the air on Willow Street. He was caught on surveillance video and also eventually caught by police.
We asked the chief what would’ve happened if the surveillance camera wasn’t there.
“That still may not have be solved,” he said.
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Gardoza has peace of mind that police were able to arrest a suspect in his nephew’s hit-and-run. But, he’s heard from people in the community that they have privacy concerns about the new registration program. People wonder if police will have access to their footage whenever they want it.
“Big brother has over reach and some people feel uncomfortable to sign up for it,” Gardoza said.
News 8 took those concerns to the chief. This was his response:
“The public should be 100 percent certain that we’re not monitoring these camera systems,” he said. “We don’t have access to them. The access can only be provided once we contact the person responsible for the camera system.”
The biggest benefit for police is that it gives them an automatic idea of how many cameras are around a given crime scene. Then — police can go to that address and ask for permission to use the footage. Chief Spagnolo says it cuts down on numerous hours of an investigation when time may be critical to catching a suspect.
“This registration would allow us to search a database when a crime occurs in the city almost instantly,” he said.
To register, head to the Waterbury Police Department website at www.wtbypd.org. Click on the CONTACT US tab, then click Video Camera Registration. They explain the program and have answers to some frequent questions. They explain that the program is anonymous and that the police cannot access your footage without your permission.
Gardoza says he realizes people may have questions about privacy. But, he also says he’s glad to know that — thanks to a surveillance camera — the person who hit his nephew and left him for dead in the road has been arrested and is now off the streets.
Bristol Police have a similar program. They started theirs last year to help deal with a rise in car thefts at the time.
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