In the dynamic landscape of home security, a recent study conducted by SafeHome found that more than 70% of U.S. households are equipped with at least one home security device.
Bryan Galvan of Arroyo Grande is one of them.
“People can, you know, see suspicious activity or feed into issues where you can raise warnings or concerns. But I think, ultimately, it’s just a little bit of… little comfort, I suppose,” Galvan said.
But these gadgets aren’t just good for monitoring who is at your doorstep, they’re also helping the police.
In the past decade, more and more law enforcement agencies have been signing on to community surveillance programs. In Pismo Beach, the police department became part of the trend back in 2021, inviting people to participate in the Community Camera Partnership.
Galvan was quick to sign up back when he lived in Pismo Heights, feeling like he was part of something bigger.
“I think it feels good to be part of something, something bigger where whether my content from the cameras were used in any of those investigations or not is irrelevant,” Galvan said.
The Pismo Beach Police Department reports a network of approximately 62 cameras throughout the city. These cameras play a crucial role in investigations of crimes like the deadly shooting near the Pismo Pier earlier this year. Police Chief Jeff Smith says surveillance camera footage helped identify the suspects and lead to their arrests.
“That entire event was captured on our community cameras. Without that footage, we probably wouldn’t have been able to identify the suspect and successfully prosecute them with the district attorney’s office,” Chief Smith explained.
Some people have misconceptions about how the program works. Smith explains that registration into the Community Camera Partnership doesn’t grant the police full-time access to the cameras. Instead, it serves as a valuable resource in identifying camera locations in the event of a crime, facilitating timely outreach for footage.
Expanding beyond Pismo Beach, cities such as Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria, and San Luis Obispo have embraced similar programs. However, awareness remains a challenge, as noted by Galvan, who was unaware of the program in Arroyo Grande until now.
While many police departments are joining the wave, the Grover Beach Police Department currently opts out of the camera registration program due to logistical challenges.
One commander says the main concern revolves around the confusion arising when businesses or residents move, leading to uncertainty about camera ownership.
But he adds that the department aims to counteract this by pursuing a regional partnership to establish a real-time crime center, bolstering the department’s capacity to obtain immediate footage when required.
If you’re interested in taking part in a camera registration program, you can check with your local police department.