Sign of things to come in other cities?

Ramsey urges businesses to register security cameras with police

More than 675 people have registered their security cameras with the Philadelphia Police Department’s SafeCam program since it began in 2011, and law enforcement officials are encouraging more to sign up.

The program allows residents and business owners to register their security cameras with the department so officers know where to look for security footage that might aid in a criminal investigation.

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey at a Tuesday news conference highlighted a city Commerce Department initiative that reimburses business owners 50 percent of installation costs up to $3,000 for putting in the cameras.

“We need more businesses to get involved,” he said.

Lt. John Stanford, a police spokesman, said that the department lacked access to live security feeds from residents who sign up for SafeCam and that residents might decline to turn over footage even if they have signed up for the program.

Ramsey said 4,300 cameras had been registered since 2011. He said footage from private security cameras can prove crucial in some investigations. In the last three years, he said, 270 people have been arrested through tips that came in after police posted video footage online.

Stanford said the city hoped to reach as many residents as possible and had printed information cards about the program in several languages.

“We want to make people feel a part of this,” he said.

Jack Chen, who owns the Sakura restaurant at 11th and Race Streets in Chinatown, said that since installing cameras and signing up for SafeCam, he had noticed fewer people dumping trash or drinking on the sidewalk outside the restaurant.

“It’s a safe feeling for customers. They feel more welcome to Chinatown and more welcome to our restaurant.”

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