Phoenix Police launch Virtual Block Watch

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A precinct with the Phoenix Police Department just launched a pilot program that takes their community block watch program digital. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A precinct with the Phoenix Police Department just launched a pilot program that takes their community block watch program digital. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
It's called Virtual Block Watch. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) It's called Virtual Block Watch. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Anyone who signs up will have their cameras includedin a precinct-wide map which detectives can access quickly making this a big time saver. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Anyone who signs up will have their cameras includedin a precinct-wide map which detectives can access quickly making this a big time saver. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Phoenix Police Department just launched a pilot program that takes their community block watch program digital, at least in one precinct.

"Residents and businesses in the community can register their surveillance systems, or their closed circuit television cameras with us," said Phoenix Police Sgt.Vince Lewis.

It's called Virtual Block Watch and people can register here: https://www.phoenix.gov/police/virtualblockwatch

Right now, it's only available in the Maryvale, Estrella Mountain Precinct. 

Sgt. Lewis says they chose that area for the test run because of the still-unsolved serial shooter case from 2016, most of the killings took place in Maryvale.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Phoenix serial shooter]

"If the system existed at the time, it's possible that we could have reached out to locations where those crimes had occurred and maybe find evidence that could have helped further that investigation," Sgt. Lewis said.

Going forward, anyone who signs up will have their cameras included in a precinct-wide map which detectives can access quickly making this a big time saver.

"When a crime takes place in that neighborhood, detectives can pull up a pin map to see whose systems are active in that area," said Lewis.

Detectives are not able to tap in directly to a camera's live feed. In fact, Sgt. Lewis says the only way they can see any video that may have been captured is if the registrant allows them to.

"If it's of use, we'll extract that and it will become evidence and it will be treated with the same care and security that any piece of evidence would," Sgt. Lewis said.

Once people sign up, someone from the Phoenix Police Department will also come out just to check out the system and make sure it's compatible and provide some technical assistance or help point the cameras at the best angle.

Phoenix is just the latest Valley city utilizing the uptick in civilian security cameras to help solve crimes. Peoria and MCSO in Queen Creek have similar programs.

[READ MORE: New MCSO camera registration program in Queen Creek]

"It's an excellent opportunity for everybody to contribute to the crime-prevention strategies in their neighborhood," Lewis said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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