Prairie Village police building network of private surveillance cameras to aid in crime investigation

Surveillance cameras have gotten cheaper, smaller and much more common over the past 20 years, to the point that today hundreds of northeast Johnson County homes have their own video security systems.

Now, the Prairie Village Police Department is mounting an effort to use the prevalence of video surveillance as a tool in investigating crimes.

A few months ago, the department formally kicked off its Village Video Cooperative program. Through the program, private businesses and homeowners can volunteer to make footage from their security systems available to the police department.

“The cooperative is simply having a system where the PD can look at a map and see where video cooperative cameras are in case of a crime happening or investigation in a certain area,” wrote Capt. Byron Roberson of the Prairie Village police. “When the crime occurs, the officer can pull up the map and see if there are any cameras in the area that may aid in our investigation.”

Roberson said that so far more than two dozen businesses and homeowners have enrolled in the program. The city has set up a page on its website where people can fill out an enrollment application. People who sign up for the program are given a decal to display in their window noting that their system is part of the police department’s program.

Roberson noted that police do not have constant access to enrollees’ surveillance systems.

“The cooperative is not a live streaming type system and the police [department] does not have free access to any system,” he said.

Police departments across the country have launched similar programs. Kansas City, Mo., began enrolling businesses and homeowners in its program last year.