La Crosse Police Dept. asking for public’s help with new security camera database

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)– La Crosse police officers have a new tool to solve crimes, but they need your help. The department is launching a database to keep track of residences and businesses with security cameras.

The police department wants people to fill out a questionnaire on its website. It asks about their security camera systems and other information that could be helpful to obtain that footage. The hope is that if a crime would happen, authorities would have a better picture of the available cameras in the area.

Law enforcement use security camera footage regularly to identify potential suspects, press charges and convict suspects. Perhaps one of the more high profile examples of this was the May’s Photo homicides in 2012.

“[Authorities spent] hours and hours of looking through video footage and were able to figure out who the murder suspect was just by the use of those cameras,” said La Crosse Police Officer Dustin Darling.

Out of the tragedy came an effort by the La Crosse City Vision Foundation to raise money for cameras to be placed around the area.

“The downtown camera system is a live camera feed,” Darling said.

That means authorities can see what is happening from a variety of locations. But this new system would be different.

“We would not have live video footage [from] these cameras,” Darling said.

People can answer some questions online which will be used to create a map that only police department staff can access.

“It will have a pinpoint which will show the camera location, the contact information and if they provided a still photo, it will show the camera angle that the camera views,” Darling said.

Like the May’s Photo homicides, it took a while to track down cameras and pull everything together.

“It’ll help save time for the officers,” Darling said.

Instead of having to scour the area for leads, they’ll have a map of where the cameras are. That may help them solve more crimes even faster.

“If a crime occurs in the neighborhood, we’re able to look on this database then to see who would have video footage and the best way to get a hold them to obtain that video footage,” Darling said.

If you want to join this project, go to the city of La Crosse’s website to fill out the questionnaire. The responses will be kept private.

Other Wisconsin cities have done similar projects. The Green Bay Police Department partnered with the security camera company Ring to install more around the city.
So far they’ve given out about 40 to 50 Ring doorbells to people in the community, according to the department.