PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Phoenix police don’t want misconceptions about their Virtual Block Watch to discourage homeowners from registering.
The department launched the program about two years ago, and since then, nearly 650 homes and businesses, like Circle K, have signed on to participate. Police were unable to say how many participating locations are homes and how many are businesses.
Phoenix police hope the more people learn about the program, the more people will register. That’s why they’re trying to dispel myths about how the program works.
“It’s not live access,” says Sgt. Vince Lewis with the Phoenix Police Department. “It does not allow investigators to tap into your system, but what it does is give us a location of where your system is."
The program is voluntary. When a homeowner registers, police can add that home address to a map showing investigators where they might be able to gain home surveillance footage to solve crimes.
Phoenix police want to stress they cannot access your footage unless an officer asks to see it and the homeowner allows them to do so.
“You might have video of the suspect jumping through yards or hiding behind vehicles,” says Lewis.
Home surveillance can be crucial for crime fighting. Early this month, footage provided by a homeowner helped police track down and arrest a man accused of shooting and killing a 10-year-old girl in an apparent road rage incident in Maryvale.
“We try to look out for one another,” says Maryvale resident Jesse Giron.
He installed a surveillance camera about a year ago after learning someone broke into his neighbor’s house.
“If I would have had a camera instead of procrastinating, I would have helped the officer get this individual,” says Giron.
He says this is the first time he’s learning about Virtual Block Watch, and he’s considering registering.
Homeowners can register for Virtual Block Watch online.