Smile! You could be on camera.
The Barrie police service is putting the final touches on an updated video surveillance network downtown.
It is also extending its field of vision with the help of local residents with about a dozen people registering so far on the service’s camera registry launched earlier this year.
The downtown video surveillance system was installed nearly a decade ago with 10 camera locations.
A recent financial infusion has allowed the police department to update and boost the system, meaning there will be 19 once they’re all installed.
The Barrie Police Service had secured a $170,000 provincial closed circuit television (CCTV) grant as part of a $6-million, three-year provincewide program. In 2019, the city also put $225,000 into the Barrie police capital reserve designated for the CCTV system to replace cameras in 2020 and 2021.
“There will be a total of 19 cameras downtown,” said community safety officer Const. Keira Brooks, adding that 15 are new in the last two months and another three are being replaced.
Downtown construction has delayed the installation of the 19th.
The cameras, she added, are highly visible and are meant to help with police investigations, although they aren’t monitored.
“Our goal, obviously, is to keep our community safe and secure and those cameras allow and afford us to gain evidence or aid in investigations if need be,” Brooks said. “We just want to make sure we can get the evidence when needed.”
Acknowledging that cameras add value to investigations, police have also reached out to the community so they can map out locations where people are willing to share footage obtained on their personal surveillance system if necessary.
The security camera registry allows police to to quickly determine the location of security cameras they might access during investigations.
“So police officers have access to who has cameras in a neighbourhood,” said Brooks.
If a break-in occurs, for example, officers can turn to the registry to see who has cameras instead of knocking on every door in the neighbourhood.
But just because an individual has signed up, it doesn’t mean they’re compelled to turn over video when requested.
“We would always reach out and ask,” said Brooks, who added the overall goal is to work collaboratively with members of the community and have them be a part of solving issues in the community. “We do not have access by someone registering their camera with us.
“You can go to our Barrie Police Service website and you can register your camera… to assist in being part of preventing and addressing crime in your neighbourhood," she added.
Faheem Malik knows the value of cameras first-hand.
Last month, Malik’s own security cameras clearly recorded someone trying to break into his cars in his driveway. He promptly sent a copy of the video to city police.
“We have our neighbourhood Facebook page, so I posted the video on there,” said the Barrie man. “And then many people came up and said: ‘Ah, yes, we saw him on our camera, too'.”
After a house was broken into and a car stolen in the neighbourhood in Barrie’s most southerly area, he shared his images with police. He likes the idea of the registry and the use of cameras to keep bandits at bay.
About a dozen people have signed up so far.
Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com