In August 2018, the Hopkinsville Police Department started the Community Crimecam program with the goal to link households, businesses and law enforcement by establishing a voluntary list of external surveillance cameras.

Hopkinsville Police Chief Clayton Sumner is asking citizens who own surveillance cameras on the outside of their homes and businesses to voluntarily submit their name, address and a contact number to a list.

The list would allow officers who receive reports of crime or suspicious activity in a particular neighborhood to contact those who are on the list and ask residents to review their own footage any suspicious people or activity.

Should the resident see anything on that footage, police would ask them to give HPD a copy of the footage. In the event the resident doesn't know how to make a copy of their footage, HPD will send one of its own technicians to help. Hard drives, USB drives or CDs would be provided free of charge.

The chief is stressing that the program will not invade anyone's privacy.

"We're not asking or wanting access to your home cameras," Sumner said.

Participating in the program will not give police direct access to a resident's surveillance system but will only indicate to police that the resident has exterior cameras and is comfortable being contacted if needed.

"We just want to know that you have one so we can contact you if something happens in your neighborhood and say 'Hey, if you don't mind, look at your footage and if you see something, you can record it for us to use in an investigation,' " the chief said. "We don't want access to anybody's camera where we can see it all the time. We're not asking for that."

Sumner said the idea to seek help from citizens who own surveillance cameras came after police saw an increase in car-related thefts, i.e. people breaking into or entering unlocked vehicles and stealing items from inside.

Sumner said he hopes the Community Crimecam program will help police identify and catch car-theft perpetrators, as well as get more individuals

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involved in helping police.

Sumner added that he hopes it will encourage more people to purchase and install surveillance cameras on their homes for their safety as well.

"It's another way of trying to get the community to take part in reducing crime and making the city safer," he said. "The more of us that are watching and paying attention, the better opportunity there is to catch people that are doing the wrong thing."

Sumner ensured that the department would not post anything online that would reveal a resident's home address or anything that could identify who they are or where they live.

"We would never post it if it was inside somebody's house or anything like that," Sumner said. "Typically, the footage we put on there is just long enough for you to see somebody walking up, see what they do and walk away."

Anyone interested in joining the Community Crimecam list can call dispatch at 270-890-1300. Let the clerk know your name, address, contact number and that you have a surveillance camera. Residents may also have their name removed at any time by calling dispatch.

Reach Avery Seeger at 270-887-3236 or aseeger@kentuckynewera.com. Follow him on Twitter @AveryNewEra.

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