New program equips Kansas City residents to take high-tech approach to neighborhood watch

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There’s a new program where you can help Kansas City police by expanding the number of eyes keeping watch on Kansas City streets.

The program is called WatchKC, and it’s putting your surveillance cameras to work for Kansas City police.

Ken Williams registered his personal surveillance cameras to do just that.

“Ironically, I just got through reading George Orwell`s 1984 again, so I do have mixed feelings about sharing footage,” Williams said. “But at the end of the day I think it`s important to maintain neighborhood security, so it was a tradeoff I was willing to make.”

Other departments across the country have had success with this type of program.

“We are going to map that information, so our investigators know quickly and efficiently where the cameras are at that are privately owned. It saves them time and effort whenever they are investigating a crime,” said Sgt. Jake Becchina, with the KCPD Law Enforcement resource center.

The police department says all it takes is a call to the department to register your surveillance camera online. Officers say don't worry, they won't have access to your camera without your knowledge.

The video is never viewed live, and you can opt out at any time.

“We would love all recorded cameras to be registered,” added Sgt. Becchina. “The process is pretty simple; it then comes to us we categorize it and maintain it securely at our location. Then put it on the map that we have access to we can get that information. “

“Everybody is taking video footage these days, so you never know when you`re being recorded, that is a bit disconcerting, but at the end of the day, I think we need to accept some compromises, and give up a little bit of freedom for security,” said Williams.

Police say video footage helps close cases faster because there's picture proof of what happened.

“You can see all sorts of examples of crimes being solved because of camera footage that people were able to provide, from businesses or private homes, and also a lot of footage from people`s cell phone cameras,” Williams said.

Police are simply asking for contact information, so they quickly know who is willing to provide surveillance video in any part of the city. ​

“All we are doing is taking the step out where the detective has to see the camera seek out camera on their own at time and get lucky,” Sgt. Becchina said.

If you would like to participate in the program and partner with KCPD to help with some of their investigations -- all you have to do is fill out the online form, click this link for more information.