Citing 270 arrests, Philly officials pushing to expand SafeCam surveillance program

 You can see the camera over the shoulder of Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey as he touts the success of the city's SafeCam program and pushes for greater participation at a press conference in Chinatown. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

You can see the camera over the shoulder of Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey as he touts the success of the city's SafeCam program and pushes for greater participation at a press conference in Chinatown. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

It’s the fourth year rolling for the Philadelphia Police Department’s SafeCam Program, which lets businesses and residents register their security cameras with the city. If a crime takes place, police can easily locate the nearby security cameras and ask owners for the relevant footage.

So far 675 business and residents have registered more than 4,300 cameras with SafeCam.

City officials say the program has been a success, and they’re making an effort to sign even more people up.

Registration cards are now available in Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and Cantonese.

And the city’s Department of Commerce is offering grants to small businesses that install new or upgraded security camera systems.

Jack Chen, owner of Sakura Mandarin at 11th and Race Streets, says installing security cameras has cut down on loitering and littering outside his Chinatown restaurant.

“I believe if more small businesses signed up for the program, it really would help reduce crime and improve the safety of the neighborhood,” Chen said.

Although those grants aren’t available to private citizens, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says residents should still register their security cameras with the city.

“If you recall the case from a couple years ago where a guy attempted to abduct an 11-year-old girl from the street and her little brother — I think he was only about 5-years old at the time — was screaming. And he let her go and ran and that person was apprehended and later convicted in court,” Ramsey said. “That footage came from a residential camera.”

More than 1,000 videos of crimes in Philadelphia released to the public have directly resulted in 270 arrests in the last three years.

“These are people that we might not have otherwise been able to capture,” Ramsey said, “because the crime is committed, you may get a vague description, you don’t really have enough to take it to court.”

City officials say it only takes about ten minutes to register for the SafeCam Program at phillypolice.com.

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