The Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office (VPSO) is creating an in-house directory of active video surveillance cameras which are facing public roadways and public places. And they are asking for public assistance.
The directory will be a list of private residents and business owners from around the parish who have registered that they utilize surveillance cameras on their property.
“Information obtained from citizens and the use of surveillance equipment is extremely helpful to law enforcement conducting criminal investigations,” reads a VPSO statement about the directory.
VPSO Chief Detective Rhonda Jordan gave a hypothetical example-- a resident who lives in a rural area experiences a break-in, and no one was around to see it. A neighbor’s camera facing out at the road may have captured useful information.
“It’s a very good chance that the camera may have caught a vehicle and it gives us a starting point,” said Jordan. “We can at least access the make, model, color of the vehicle. If this is released on social media and others recognize the vehicle, that is a huge help.”
Videos include a timestamp, which is helpful in establishing a timeframe.
Agreeing to register surveillance cameras with VPSO is strictly voluntary. “If the citizen is comfortable doing it, we will be very respectful of their privacy,” said Jordan. “They would be present when we view the video.”
Participating in this program gives residents a way to help with crime prevention and investigations. “It’s their way to assist their neighbors; to help and protect themselves, and be involved in what is kind of like a neighborhood watch,” said Jordan. “We want them to step up and assist us. That’s why we are reaching out to them.”
VPSO has observed other agencies utilizing a surveillance resource list and they have had a lot of success with it, Jordan said.
The directory will be used for law enforcement purposes only. Information will be maintained by the VPSO Criminal Division.
“These resources will only be used in the event of a crime in the immediate area of the camera and VPSO will make contact with the camera owner and request consent to view their camera or to receive/review any digital data,” reads the VPSO statement.
All commercial businesses are being asked to register, regardless of whether they are located inside Leesville’s city limits, or in the rural areas of the parish.
Community Outreach Program (COP) meetings, conducted by VPSO as a way of connecting with the public and gathering information and concerns, will be held again at the end of October or beginning of November.
At this time, the video surveillance initiative will be discussed, and residents will have the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns.
“We appreciate the community involvement,” said Jordan. “We want to serve our citizens the very best that we can.”
Anyone interested in participating in this program can provide their name, phone number, address, and the name of the public roadway, or direction in which the camera is facing, to VPSO at firstname.lastname@example.org or through private message via VPSO Facebook page.
Questions and concerns can be directed to the VPSO Criminal Division at 337-238-7248.