FULTON, Mo. – The Fulton Police Department is collaborating with businesses and residents to establish a voluntary community camera program aimed at solving crimes throughout the city of just under 13,000.
In the words of Fulton Chief of Police Bill Ladwig, video surveillance is a powerful tool for preventing crime and convicting criminals. Now locals can register the location and capabilities of their video camera systems with the police department. If any criminal activity takes place, the department will be able to swiftly find nearby cameras for evidence and leads.
Ladwig was approached with the idea by former chief of police and former mayor Charlie Latham, and the two began researching other police departments engaged in community camera programs.
Program participants will remain anonymous unless they witness a crime and are summoned for court. If a defendant starts threatening or intimidating witnesses, Chief Ladwig says they will be charged with witness tampering. In addition, Ladwig’s officers would monitor and patrol the witness’s residence while addressing the problem with city prosecutors.
The Fulton Police Department will not have live access to anyone’s private cameras. With today’s advanced technology, Ladwig says video footage is often clear and admissible as evidence. Participants can typically use the security camera app to email footage to the department.
“We would gather those by email to see if there is anything there that would help us in an investigation or if they have a camera pointed toward a neighbor’s house and somebody stole something off their front porch. That may give us good clues as to who it was or what vehicle they may have been in,” Ladwig says.
Participants have the right to refuse handing over video evidence if they feel uncomfortable after being contacted by the department.
Fulton’s crime rate has remained stable, but the chief says he wants to ensure firm control on it.
Fulton PD received 50 replies and sign-ups for the program as of last week, with Ladwig saying he believes it’s already successful based on the level of interest.
Ladwig recommends supporting neighborhood watch programs and treating the community camera program as a citywide neighborhood watch, while he stresses the need for reporting suspicious activity even if it means remaining anonymous when calling 911.
Fulton residents or businesses who are interested in joining the new program are encouraged to register their cameras here.