The flashing blue light has become as synonymous with Baltimore city a one eye'd mascot on a beer can.
For better or worse it is Baltimore and a crime fighting tool Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has been looking to double down on since her days as the council president, a bet she cashed in at Wednesday morning's board of estimates meeting.
"Business owners and eventually citizens will be able to register their security camera systems with a web application when the data base is complete it will allow operators in police city watch control rooms to immediately identify registered camera systems in a particular area near a crime," the mayor said.
Thanks to a donation by the Abell Foundation, the city will now develop a way for businesses and residents to opt in to the existing city watch grid basically giving police access to their security cameras if a crime happens near them.
It is optional but could exponentially increase the reach of catching crime on tape or preventing it.
"When you give us access to the cameras inside of the locations it just further stretches our arm, it gives us more ability to solve crimes," said Detective Donny Moses.
The police department is on board as this new application would give them countless more eyes after a crime happens.
A striking for instance is the shooting at a Chinese carry out on Greenmount Avenue late last year.
This restaurant’s surveillance video led to an arrest in the November 2011 murder; a result police believe they would see more of and more quickly if they already had access to private cameras in conjunction with their public ones.
"This is a great tool because now, when we get the call, before we even go out, wonder and question whether or not they have a camera....now we know. Again it is just one step closer to solving cases," said Moses.
Now this program won't be up and running for a while yet but when it is, the city expects the first to sign up will be hotels and hospitals.
Below is a statement from the Abell Foundation on why it chose to fund this latest crime fighting program:
The Abell Foundation is pleased to support the Citiwatch Community Partnership and its efforts to improve public safety in Baltimore City. This innovative and cost effective approach leverages private resources to assist the Baltimore Police Department in its criminal investigations and can also be a valuable tool in subsequent prosecutions.
Robert C. Embry Jr. , President
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