INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Independence Police Department has 20 detectives, each one averaging nearly 130 cases a year, but a good portion of those crimes will never be investigated because there’s no surveillance.
After several porch thefts, Chris Cline decided to install his own surveillance around his home.
“I’ve got round-the-house coverage. We can always know 24/7 what’s going on at the house,” Cline said.
Now, police can also stay in the know in Cline’s neighborhood.
In April, the Independence Police Department launched its Community Camera Program. Businesses and residents like Cline can register their cameras with the department.
It creates an internal map for Officer John Syme and the 20 detectives on staff.
“So, when we’re called to an incident like a homicide, or a kidnapping, something time-sensitive, and we need to be able to quickly look up where those cameras are, it helps us do that,” Syme said.
There are some people living in Independence who feel as if the camera program is just another way "Big Brother" is watching but Syme said that is not the case.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that if we don’t have solvability factors, if we don’t have a way to solve this case, it won’t get assigned to a detective,” Syme said.
Cline sited a recent example when the cameras came in handy to solve a crime, and said that’s reason enough for anyone to sign up.
“We had the 10-year-old little girl who said someone pulled up to her and exposed himself. From what I understand, that case is coming to an end. They’ve got someone in custody due to a surveillance camera,” Cline said.
The Kansas City Police Department launched a similar program in 2018. More than 500 people have registered, and investigators have used those cameras 900 times to help solve crimes.