Residents and businesses of Chaska that currently have, or may be interested in getting, a security camera for their property can now register it with the new Chaska Police Department S.M.I.L.E. program, which stands for Surveillance Monitoring Initiative for Law Enforcement.
By filling out the online form, residents allow the Chaska Police Department to know where the security cameras are on their property so they may be reached out to if a crime occurs nearby.
“If they sign up for our form, it goes into a database. This just lets us know where their camera is or who has cameras,” said Chaska Communications Manager Kevin Wright. “We don’t get access to any of the actual camera feed, but if there’s any sort of incident that happens, or any reason that we need to investigate something, we can reach out to people in the area of wherever that happened to ask if we can look at their camera.”
Signing up does not entitle the police department to your footage and residents can decline giving access to footage if an incident does ever occur nearby.
“The program is really in the interest of keeping our community safe,” Wright said. “There’s just a lot more cameras out there, so this sort of speeds up the investigation process for us. If something were to happen, instead of having to canvass the area or go ask the residents or businesses in the area if they have cameras, the information is already there on who has a camera and our investigators can contact them directly.”
After working with other organizations and agencies in the Twin Cities with similar community safety programs, the Chaska PD worked in conjunction with the Carver County Geographic Information Systems department to put this program together.
“It was actually something that community members had reached out to us about, if we had a program like this, so that was another piece of making sure we created one,” Wright said.
According to Wright, the program was not brought about due to a rise in crime, but rather a rise in technology. “It’s not related to any sort of trend other than the trend of more and more cameras out there.”
“We’ve seen a really good response to people signing up,” Wright said. “We’ve definitely had quite a few people take the time to register and go through the process, so it’s good to see that it was something that was welcomed by the community.”
Carver County Sheriff’s Office has also launched a CommunityWatch program similar to S.M.I.L.E.
“The difference is in Chaska, if something happens here, our police department takes the lead on an investigation. Whereas if something were to happen in Carver County, the sheriff’s office [has] jurisdiction, they would take the lead,” Wright said. “What we would recommend is if you live in Chaska, or own a small business in Chaska, you should just fill out our form for our S.M.I.L.E. program. They’re the same, but the information would go to the agency then that would actually follow up.
Lt. Lance Pearce, of the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, encourages those who want to sign up for both programs to do so.
“You could register with both. Sometimes we have cross jurisdictional things that happen,” Pearce said. “We’re finding that more and more people have videos of some sort. We’re hoping that we can get some people so the public can help us so we can help each other solve some of these crimes and hopefully deter them at the same time. “We’re certainly trying to leverage technology in this case.”
As with Chaska’s S.M.I.L.E program, any camera can be registered, and footage is not required to be handed over to law enforcement.
“It’s not necessarily crimes, that’s certainly the bulk of it, but we can use that for missing persons too,” Pearce said.