Fort Collins police want to create a network of home surveillance cameras to help solve crimes

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. — It may sound like a move from George Orwell’s "1984," but the Fort Collins police chief believes a network of cameras throughout the city will make the community safer, and help them in almost every facet of their job.

“We just find routinely residents are saying 'how can we help?' And this is one way they can help,” said Chief Jeff Swoboda. “Video is what's making or breaking many cases.”

The department launched the program this year, dubbing it the “Patio Patrol” ahead of the holiday season where porch pirates are on the prowl.

“We have a couple hundred police officers, but there are close to 200,000 people in the community,” Swoboda said.

The program accepts any type of surveillance, from bigger-brand companies like Ring and Nest, to a camera hooked up to a VCR. Residents can share the camera information, along with their address, contact information, and include notes dictating where the camera is pointed.

Fort Collins officers can then access a map that will show them where the closest neighborhood or business camera is, and the contact information for the owner.

“They let us know they have the system, and then again on a case by case basis they decide if they want to cooperate with us,” Swoboda said. “We don't have access to it, unless they tell us they want to give it to us. People may not get the actual crime that was committed, but they can get the people on their way to commit the crime, or leaving it.”

If you are registered for Patio Patrol, you can also opt out at any time.

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