The Ukiah Police Department is calling on residents with surveillance cameras that document the exterior of their homes and businesses to register with the agency so that if an incident occurs in the area, those eyes can aid in their efforts to keep the community safe.
When officers are investigating an incident or crime, UPD’s Lieutenant Andrew Phillips said one of their first steps is to canvas the area looking for businesses or homes that have surveillance cameras documenting the scene.
When time is of the essence, a camera registry system would allow UPD’s crime analysts to pinpoint nearby, exterior cameras that could have captured relevant footage.
As surveillance cameras become cheaper and more ubiquitous, Lieutenant Phillips said residents and police officers have a unique opportunity to work in partnership. This camera registration system “is like a neighborhood watch. More eyes are always better,” Lieutenant Phillips explained.
The suspected vandal behind a recent rash of graffiti throughout Ukiah was identified using footage gathered from multiple surveillance cameras. Lieutenant Phillips said these cameras captured the suspect spraying and painting the same tag in multiple locations in Ukiah.
“Vandalism is often hard to solve, but when you get footage like that, you can identify the suspect and link them to other crimes as well,” Lieutenant Phillips explained.
In February 2022, surveillance footage was used to confirm the statement of a robbery victim after their home near the intersection of Babcock and Talmage was targeted.
When solving thefts of ID cards, debit, and credit cards, surveillance footage from businesses is an essential tool to catch the thieves in the act.
Lieutenant Phillips recalled a hit and run that occurred on the northeast side of town. A neighbor’s Ring doorbell camera captured the entire collision which allowed officers to track down the driver that fled the scene.
For residents that would like to participate in the program but are not tech-savvy, Lieutenant Phillips said officers could provide assistance in both installing and accessing any footage, with that resident’s permission and consent.
For those concerned about privacy, this camera registration program is completely voluntary and Lieutenant Phillips emphasized that even those who register can opt out of providing video footage if they so choose. Law enforcement does not have remote access to the cameras and asks for access anytime they would like to review relevant footage.
Lieutenant Phillips said the only circumstance that law enforcement could compel a homeowner to provide footage from their surveillance cameras would be a homicide but even then a search warrant would be necessary for officers to proceed.
Lieutenant Phillips asks that if anyone is interested in working with UPD to keep the community safe, they can register their surveillance cameras on the department’s Camera Registration Form. The form will ask residents to provide a description of the camera’s locations, what road/area the cameras are facing, and a screenshot of what can be seen through the camera.
Lieutenant Phillips invites residents to call him at (707)463-6254 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to address any questions or concerns.