Tampa police looking to use your home surveillance footage

Project REC creates new database

TAMPA, Fla. -

Update (4/20/17): ABC Action News has learned at least two dozen people have signed up for Project REC in the past two weeks.

Tampa Police is rolling out a new program to better protect your home and loved ones by using your home surveillance cameras.

Project REC, or Register Every Camera, helps give officers the information they need to catch criminals faster.

"Catching a criminal on camera is one of the best pieces of evidence for solving crimes," said Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward, in a flyer handed out to residents in Tampa Heights late Thursday. "Project REC places extra eyes in our neighborhoods that will help solve more crimes, while creating even less opportunities for criminals to avoid being captured..."

A little more than a week ago, Tampa Heights resident Erin McKinnon noticed something on her home surveillance cameras.

"I saw a weird person on our camera walking into the yard," she said. "Lo and behold, there's somebody breaking into our shed!"

McKinnon is one of the first people in Tampa Heights to sign up for Tampa Police Department's Register Every Camera Program. It's a database of who has home surveillance cameras throughout the city.

"When something happens to your neighbor, it happens to you," said Ed Bembrey, a Tampa Heights resident.

If a crime happens near you, police may ask for your home surveillance footage to catch criminals faster.

"That's where the cameras come in," Bembrey said. "That's where helping the police, of a crime that happens, go ahead and give it."

When you register your home surveillance cameras with Tampa Police, you give them critical information, like how many cameras you have plus how far they shoot and record.

"To keep the civilians safe, I mean I think it's a great thing," said Paul Conrad, a Tampa Heights resident. "I'm all for it."

Even if you register your home surveillance cameras, police still need your permission to access your video feeds. Security experts also recommend users change their camera's passwords to ward off hackers.

For now, people in Tampa Heights hope to be a part of a much larger movement that eventually goes citywide.

"We never put it together, let's get it together as a neighborhood," McKinnon said.

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