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Private security cameras can be key to solving crimes

National Public Radio

Niagara County is looking to the public for help in solving crimes, by registering their security cameras with the county.

Operation Safe Cam is a voluntary program that asks residents private homeowners and business owners to register their security cameras with the county. Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek said it started in Philadelphia, but they got the idea from the Buffalo Police Department.

"They have a very up and functioning Crime Analysis Center, " she said. "We have the Niagara Intelligence and Crime Analyst Center located in the Niagara Falls Police Department and since I started in January, getting that Crime Analyst Center up and running and well functioning has been one of my top priorities."

Wojtaszek said the Department of Criminal Justice Services had been very generous in providing necessary equipment to the Niagara Falls center.

Anyone interested in participating in Operation Safe Cam can register online on the Niagara County website or at their local police department. By signing up, security footage of any potential crime would be shared with law enforcement.

"A crime occurs in a certain area and, you know, you can look and sometimes figure out where some of these cameras are owned privately," she said, "but then you've got to try to find the person's name, try to find the person's phone number, you got to try to catch them when they're available and this way, you cut out all that leg work."

Wojtaszek said community response thus far has been positive. Every day she sees more people coming in and registering.

"I think it's just about getting the word out," she said. "We going to start doing some local programs to get the word out because everybody, when they're seeing it, when we were just walking in North Tonawanda, we already a slew of those who had cameras already sending in their registrations this week, so that's great."

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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