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Would you register your surveillance camera with law enforcement?

El Paso County Sheriff's Office seeks help

El Paso County makes appeal to...

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is asking local individuals, businesses and community groups to register for its new surveillance video program.

More details about the Community Video Program were provided Thursday afternoon, after a release by the Sheriff's Office earlier in the day.

The Sheriff's Office wants access to video that includes background public areas, in order to give investigators a better ability to gather evidence, solve crimes and identify suspects.

Sgt. Mitch Mihalko said people who register for the program shouldn't worry about investigators invading privacy by accessing cameras and security systems.

"We're interested only in the video you have, if it's recorded anywhere that a crime has been committed," he said.  "We can use video and still photos.  The format doesn't matter.  If it's recorded, we can use it."

Mihalko said such a registry is not common in law enforcement.

"We studied Canon City and a place in Kansas where they were using a similar program," he said. "Knowing in advance where and who has surveillance video will be a big help to us.  It'll save us some of the time and effort of knocking on doors, asking people if they have video and getting their permission to share it."

Mihalko said after a registry is established, investigators will still ask for permission to use video.

"And members can opt out at any time if they feel it's not right for them," he said.

Colorado Springs police do not have a similar program.

But Ryan Jones, a homeowner in town, said he registered for the county program as soon as he learned of it.

"My cameras help protect me, my home and my family," he said.  "But if it also helps authorities solve crimes, I'm all for it.  So many people have surveillance systems nowadays.  The more who sign up, the better our chances of catching criminals."

Jones said his cameras recently recorded the sound of gunfire in his neighborhood, and later learned they are possibly linked to the detaining of two juveniles as burglary suspects.

"You never know," he said.  "Anything suspicious, anything that may seem insignificant to us, could be an important clue for an investigator."

The Sheriff's Office said a registry would have been helpful Thursday after a home invasion in the 7200 block of Tudor Road, in which an armed man and a woman stole the victim's purse, cellphone and vehicle.

"We recently found a woman who'd been missing since May because a bank sent us surveillance photos and they generated tips from the public that helped us locate her," Mihalko said.

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