Sunday, April 22, 2018
Public safety

Tampa police ask residents and businessowners to register their surveillance cameras to help fight crime

TAMPA — After a thief stole his lawn mower from a shed and another tried to break into his historic bungalow in Tampa Heights, Justin Ricke figured it was time to get security cameras. He has since upgraded to high-definition models that peer out from under the pale yellow home's eaves.

"As a deterrent, it's great thing," said Ricke, who lives in the house with his wife and 12-year-old daughter. "I know that if anything occurs in front of my property, I have a peace of mind that I'm going to have some kind of record of that."

Now those cameras are part of a new Tampa Police Department program that officials say will help police catch criminals quicker.

The REC program, short for "Register Every Camera," aims to create a mapped database of exterior surveillance cameras in homes and businesses in the city. When a crime occurs in an area, officers can pull up that map and quickly locate cameras that might have captured video evidence, expediting what is often the first step of any investigation, police Sgt. Kelley Spanglo said.

"We're hoping that residents will join us in our partnership in our fight against crime," Spanglo said Thursday at a news conference in front of Ricke's home. "This will help us solve crimes more quickly and efficiently."

Spanglo stressed that property owners who sign up must give officers permission before they view or download footage. Participants are asked a few basic questions, such as whether the cameras have a view of the street, what other areas are covered and whether footage can be downloaded. Information in the database is managed by the department and kept private.

The St. Petersburg Police Department launched a similar program in 2014, said spokesman Rick Shaw. Dubbed "Eagle Eye," it was modeled on one at the Philadelphia Police Department, Shaw said. There are currently 340 residents and business owners in the city registered with the program, Shaw said.

Shaw did not have specific data on how many criminals Eagle Eye has helped nab.

"It has enabled us to solve some cases over the years," he said.

More than two dozen residents have signed up for Tampa's REC initial trial period.

Among them is Ricke, who serves as second vice president for the Tampa Heights Civic Association.

The account manager for an athletic apparel company moved to Tampa Heights from Chicago about eight years ago. He was attracted to Tampa Heights because of its central location, walkability and the charm of the historic homes, but there periodically are break-ins to homes and sheds and so-called porch pirates who pilfer packages.

Ricke said he has seen success stories about crimes getting solved because of video footage spreading on social media. So when Tampa police approached him about the REC program, he figured it made sense to participate, especially after officials emphasized that the department wouldn't have direct access to his camera feed and he would not be required to allow offices to view or download footage.

"If I can make their job easier in protecting my neighborhood," he said, "then why wouldn't I do that?"

It's the second time in two months that the department has announced an effort to partner with residents through technology.

Last month, the department announced an informal partnership with the social network Nextdoor, a sort of online community bulletin board that police officials say will allow them to better communicate with residents in the city's neighborhoods.

Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

     
Comments
New Port Richey Woman dies in single-car crash on SR 580

New Port Richey Woman dies in single-car crash on SR 580

A 49-year-old woman died early Saturday in a single-car crash on State Road 580.Kristin Carlin, of New Port Richey, was driving in the eastbound lanes of SR 580 when she failed to round a curve and veered off the road near Charles Avenue, a Clearwate...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Man with multiple gun arrests now accused of fatally shooting Durant High football player

Man with multiple gun arrests now accused of fatally shooting Durant High football player

The first time deputies arrested Samuel Morrissey Jr., he faced charges of possession of marijuana and carrying a concealed firearm. He plead no contest in September, and the judge gave him a break by withholding adjudication. Ten days later, the 20-...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Man who attacked woman and stole her shorts arrested, deputies say

Man who attacked woman and stole her shorts arrested, deputies say

Deputies arrested a man they said tackled a woman in February and removed her shorts before fleeing.Robert Mark Hembree Jr., 31, was arrested late Friday. He faces charges of sexual battery and petit theft.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Detectives seek man who a...
Published: 04/21/18
Dade City man killed in early morning hit-and-run, police say

Dade City man killed in early morning hit-and-run, police say

A Pasco County man was struck and killed in an apparent hit-and-run early Saturday, police said.Thomas Michael Burdeshaw, 53, who lived on Sundance Drive in Dade City, was hit about 1:45 a.m. on the 36000 block of Blanton Road, police said.Witnesses ...
Published: 04/21/18
Police searching for person who shot a man to death in Largo

Police searching for person who shot a man to death in Largo

CLEARWATER ó Police are looking for a person who shot and killed a man late Friday at the Melrose on the Bay apartments on Bolesta Road. Ricardo Guzman, 32, called 911 just before midnight and told the operator he had been shot, said Lt. Randall Chan...
Published: 04/21/18
Motorcyclist dies after crash on Memorial Highway

Motorcyclist dies after crash on Memorial Highway

TAMPA ó A motorcyclist driving north on Memorial Highway died after he crashed into a guard rail late Friday, police said."The man failed to negotiate a curve in the road and struck a guard rail," said Lt. Brett Owen. "No other vehicle was involved i...
Published: 04/21/18
Cops used dead manís finger in attempt to access his phone. Itís legal, but is it okay?

Cops used dead manís finger in attempt to access his phone. Itís legal, but is it okay?

LARGO ó Most people agree what the Largo detectives did at the funeral home was legal.What they diverge on is whether it was appropriate."I just felt so disrespected and violated," said Victoria Armstrong, whose fiance, Linus F. Phillip, was shot and...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

TAMPA ó Deputies are searching for a woman accused of blocking a special needs school bus with her car, getting out and banging and kicking on the bus door until she broke the glass.And there were four children inside, deputies said, as she shouted a...
Published: 04/20/18
St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

ST. PETERSBURG ó Officers are searching for a 20-year-old woman who they believe to be missing and who could be in danger.Kayla Brandi Boone was last seen at about 11 p.m. Thursday in the 2700 block of Fourth Street S, according to St. Petersburg pol...
Published: 04/20/18

Deputies: 19-month-old child found in New Port Richey pond has died

NEW PORT RICHEY ó The 19-month-old child that was found in a pond on Thursday afternoon has died, according to the Pasco County Sheriffís Office.The incident took place at about 12:31 p.m. Deputies and firefighters were called out to a home in the 47...
Published: 04/20/18