Oak Park, Ill., PD Makes It Easier to Share Video Evidence

A new Web portal is streamlining how members of the public share private surveillance footage with investigators. The new system allows for submissions to be made anonymously.

(TNS) — Hoping to tap into the large network of residential and commercial cameras in town, the Oak Park Police Department has launched a new website for owners of private surveillance systems to upload footage that police hope could be useful to investigators.

The webpage, which launched in March, allows those with cameras on their property the ability to upload videos or photos to share with police officers.

Oak Park Police Chief LaDon Reynolds said the initiative, which is in use by other departments, came about following community meetings with residents who expressed a desire for more digital surveillance throughout the village.

“We held those neighborhood meetings at village hall, and one of the things that came out of that was the increased use of technology to either deter or solve crimes,” Reynolds said. “We talked a lot about the most cost-effective way to collaborate with the community and get as many cameras out there to develop a program.”

Residents and businesses with cameras can submit their videos and contact information, or they can choose to remain anonymous, by visiting www.oak-park.us/policevideo. Police say all files will be treated as confidential aspects of ongoing investigations.

Earlier this year, police released a video and still photo of two men who allegedly abandoned a stolen car Jan. 23 near the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and Maple Avenue. One of the men was seen carrying a large rifle while fleeing toward a home with a private security camera.

Both men were later apprehended and turned over to the Chicago Police Department
, police said.

“Prior to this technological boom, the community has always been the eyes and ears of the police department,” Reynolds said. “We rely on this collaborative process for crime prevention and the apprehension of criminals. This is an extension of that.”

Typically, after a crime is committed, Reynolds said police will canvass the area to interview residents and witnesses, as well as look for private surveillance systems that may be of use.

Though it has been live for only about a month, Reynolds said the department has already received some content through the website.

“We’ve gotten some videos,” Reynolds said. “It’s really just another tool that we’ll have to assist us in addressing some of the concerns of the community.”

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