Lower Pottsgrove Reinstates Video Registry Program

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – The township Police Department is restarting a voluntary video surveillance registration program for property owners who have cameras monitoring their buildings and surrounding areas. It hopes they would be willing to give the department access to their video footage to assist in its investigations, or incidents.

A somewhat similar program was begun several years earlier by former Police Chief Michael Foltz, but township Commission Ray Lopez reports some of that information is no longer retrievable, and other portions were not maintained or updated. Current Chief Rick Bell, however, believes this may be an even more important time to again seek public help in gaining access to local video sources.

Commissioners and their Police Committee agree, and during last Thursday’s (May 19, 2022) board meeting encouraged Bell to proceed.

The registry form asks for several items of information: the owners’ name, address, and phone number; the brand and location of cameras, the areas they view, the period of time recordings are retained, and whether the video can be e-mailed or otherwise delivered digitally.

The form, to be signed by the owner, acknowledges the presence of video cameras; grants the department permission to keep the form “on file;” and gives the department permission to contact the signer “in the event (it) would like to review” available footage.

When the registry program was first introduced in the township, neighborhood surveillance networks created by camera manufacturers like Ring Video’s “Neighbors Public Safety Service” and others were still being organized and slowly adding members. Now, Bell acknowledges, many homes and businesses have cameras. Some are part of networks, others not; but all may provide video to help solve cases and find criminals, the chief suggests.

The department relied in part on voluntary video footage during late April, Bell said, when Pebble Beach Lane area residents raised concerns about shots being fired in or near their neighborhood. The department after an investigation determined shots were indeed heard, but their sources could not be precisely located and no spent casings or shells were found.

At the time he thanked those in the neighborhood who offered their video footage for review. Perhaps not surprisingly, he later said, many of those same residents indicated they liked the idea of the registry and have already signed up.

Commissioners hope constituents consider joining the registry, Lopez said, not only because they can assist the department but also because they can participate in another layer for security for the township. The earlier registry received moderate support, Lopez said; he believes it could be higher in its new form.

Photo by Nathy Dog via Unsplash, used under license