Linda Annis is urging Surreyites to register their CCTV cameras with Project Iris, with hopes a similar initiative will spread to other Metro Vancouver communities such as Langley.
“I think everyone should get on board,” she said Tuesday, June 13 from a home in Cloverdale. “It’s such a valuable tool for police.”
Project Iris is specifically a City of Surrey program that offers residents in that community a chance to register their home security camera in a database that will help the police with an investigation after a crime has taken place.
“It’s so the police don’t have to go knocking door-to-door, which takes a lot of time and a lot of manpower,” said Annis, the executive director of Metro Vancouver CrimeStoppers.
“Residents register their cameras, and if something happens in their neighbourhood, the police are aware immediately who has cameras and will call you to ask if they can get your footage.”
Annis clarified the cameras are not linked via the Internet to a wider web of surveillance.
The program is only designed to save the police added footwork. She said police can spend a lot of time canvassing neighbourhoods to see what houses may have captured video footage of an alleged crime.
“As a homeowner here in Surrey, or in other jurisdictions in Metro Vancouver that have similar programs, you register your camera and it allows police to know who has cameras in the neighbourhood and then they will contact you if they need to use your footage.”
Annis said Surrey’s Project Iris is similar programs in North Vancouver, Delta, and Port Coquitlam.
“These voluntary camera registries can help police solve crimes by reducing the time it takes to conduct the investigation.”
Annis assured a citizen’s privacy is always protected and she said all information is confidential.
“If a person wants to remove their camera from the registry, which I wouldn’t recommend, they can do so at any time by unsubscribing to the service,” she added.
Annis, who is also a Surrey city councillor, said the system has been running for a number of years. She feels it’s a great program because, with a city as big as Surrey, the police can’t be everywhere at once.
“The more footage and the more help the police can get, the better off we’ll be.”
Annis asked all residents and business owners in Surrey to register with Project Iris. She said the database is only accessed on a case by-case basis and only when police would need to get video evidence during criminal investigations.
“Affordable home security alarms and video equipment have changed the home break-in game for the better,” Annis added.
“However, programs like these CCTV registries, and CrimeStoppers, show how we can all play an important role in protecting ourselves and our community.”