Extending crime-fighting video surveillance in Woodburn
Early in 2019, Woodburn Police Chief Jim Ferraris assigned Lt. Andy Shadrin to investigate the feasibility of establishing a surveillance camera registration program in the city.
Shadrin did that, and by June of that year, the first voluntary cameras were registered with the Surveillance Camera Registration & Mapping program, a crime-fighting tool which allows police to examine video footage from a registered residence or business if a crime has occurred in the area.
"We modeled our program from (the) Medford and Keizer police departments," Shadrin said. "The goal of the program is to allow community members, on a voluntary basis, to provide information about their exterior video surveillance cameras to the police department. As our officers and investigators respond and investigate incidents, they can utilize the current database of registered cameras to determine if there are residences, businesses and other locations that could have captured video evidence.
"Our longer term goal is to hopefully have a robust participation in the program and pair the registered databases with a digital map for our officers and investigators to utilize in 'real' time, when and if they respond to a criminal incident."
At this point, SCRAM participation in Woodburn is modest, with about 15 cameras registered. Medford, which implemented SCRAM a half decade ago, has experienced great success with its program.
"It has worked quite well for us over the years; the amount of cases solved from SCRAM registrations and surveillance cameras in general are countless," said Medford Police Lt. Mike Budreau, who was MPD's front person on its SCRAM program.
"The biggest obstacle with video surveillance systems is knowing where they are at, and who to contact to get access," Budreau explained. "Even if the camera did not catch the actual event, they often catch the suspect or vehicle coming and going from the scene. Being able to look in a matter of seconds where the cameras are is extremely helpful."
Shadrin said Woodburn police officers can conduct a neighborhood canvass to locate any surveillance cameras where a crime or incident has occurred, but cameras can be concealed, sometimes looking like a doorbell or another object. When cameras are preregistered, it may streamline investigation somewhat as the cameras may already have vital information from video surveillance, including images, a time period and who the point of contact is and their contact information.
"It could be a huge time saver," Shadrin stressed. "Generally, folks are very receptive to providing video surveillance to help our investigations when oftentimes they are not victims themselves."
Medford Police officials note that a growing number of people are purchasing security cameras for their homes and businesses. The cost of surveillance systems is decreasing and the video quality improving. Moreover, systems are also accessible with phone applications.
Budreau said security cameras are proving to be incredibly valuable in criminal cases and often provide more accurate information than witness statements. He added that the growing presence of security cameras will help solve — and prevent — crimes, adding that security cameras are valuable in reconstructing crimes, and also act as deterrents — criminals tend to avoid areas where they know they are under surveillance.
"So, with SCRAM, people are not only helping protect their home, but their entire neighborhood," Budreau said.
• Residents or businesses wishing to register with SCRAM can fill out the online form by visiting www.woodburn-or.gov/police and navigating to the SCRAM link.
• All participating registrants receive a thank you letter from the department along with a vinyl "S.C.R.A.M." sticker they can affix to their property/location to indicate they are participating in the program.
• Participation in the program does not allow officers to access any video surveillance and/or monitor peoples surveillance videos; it is an additional investigative resource for investigators when/if a criminal incident occurs.
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