Surveillance Video Program Proposed in San Jose

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A San Jose councilman is proposing the city create a database where citizens who have surveillance systems can help police.

    A San Jose councilman is proposing the city create a database where citizens who have surveillance systems can help police.

    It's a system that has been used unofficially.

    When officers were tracking down a serial arsonist, people readily offered up their surveillance video to help.

    Councilman Sam Liccardo wants to formalize the process through a database he said would be simple to set up and maintain.

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    San Jose police have identified a serial arson suspect who is a registered sex offender as well as a "registered" arsonist who was convicted for setting a fire at Grand Canyon National Park nearly 20 years ago. Damian Trujillo and Marianne Favro report.

    "This doesn't expand police access to video," he said. "It just identifies for the police where the systems are should people want to come forward and identify their systems."

    The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department invites residents to register their systems through a website. But the department has not returned calls asking for an update on the program.

    In Philadelphia, police said their "Safecam" system, which is similar to the system proposed in San Jose, has been a valuable resource.

    Last year, Philadelphia officers released 450 videos and netted 120 arrests.

    "In no way, shape or form are we looking to put anyone in harm's way," said Lt. John Stanford, Philadelphia Police Department. "The whole idea is for them to sign up and register and to remain anonymous."

    At a San Jose rules committee hearing Wednesday, residents raised questions about privacy and liability, and who would create and maintain the database. But the main concern was about resources, and whether the system would divert valuable funds away from the police department.

    "What solved that arson crimes wasn't the videos," said Gloria Sanchez, a San Jose resident. "It was a police sergeant who worked overtime. It was good policing."