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Renton Police recruiting private surveillance for crime-fighting partnership

Surveillance images have helped investigators identify and capture crime suspects for years. Now, the Renton Police Department is hoping to get access to thousands of private cameras installed throughout the city.

It’s called the Camera Registration Program. Since it launched Thursday, more than 40 homeowners and business owners have already signed up.

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Sgt. Christy Mathews told KIRO 7 the partnership was the idea of the department’s Community Programs Division.

According to Mathews, surveillance images are typically obtained by officers and detectives knocking on doors, asking business owners and homeowners if a surveillance camera might have captured a particular incident.

Now, the locations of homes and businesses that register with the Camera Registration Program appear as blue dots on a satellite map of Renton.

Mathews said other police agencies have databases of available cameras on printed pages, but not on a computer-generated map. She believes Renton PD’s is the first.

The Camera Registration Program is volunteer-only and does not allow police officers to see images in real time.

It simply lets investigators know a camera is in the area and that its owner is willing to cooperate with police officers. Those officers can then “log in from their cars and see there are three houses in this area, and the suspect fled this way, so maybe these three cameras will show something,” Mathews explained.

Wes Henry is Pastor at City View Church, which has a very clear, brand-new digital surveillance system. On Thursday morning, he signed up to partner with the Renton PD should anything suspicious happen within sight of his cameras.

Henry told KIRO 7 he has no concerns about the program invading his or his congregation members’ privacy.

“They are putting us on the map,” Henry explained about his willingness to partner with Renton police.

Officers “don’t have access to our cameras. They’re not coming to tap in. They don’t actually have any way to get the feed unless I give it to them.”

Henry, who’s known as Pastor Wes, said he only has one question about the Camera Registration Program: “Why aren’t more people doing it?”

By Amy Clancy, KIRO 7

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