Our Role in the War On Crime
It’s interesting that Honeywell’s purchase of RSI Video Technologies (Videofied brand) was announced on the day of this writing (March 1), because Videofied’s President Keith Jentoft has long been devoted to the cause of using video technology to verify alarms and thus, help solve crimes-in-progress.
Some think Jentoft’s tireless efforts to visit police departments throughout North America and ask them to make policy changes to prioritize police response to video-verified alarms (Jentoft also founded the Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response — PPVAR) are self-serving given his position as a manufacturer of video-verification products. But few could argue that Jentoft’s vision of a true partnership between the alarm industry and law enforcement in the work of solving crimes was not compelling. After several decades, early on in the growth of home alarms, in which the relationship between security and law enforcement was utterly beleaguered by false alarms, his was a fresh, needed approach that brought the security industry back to its roots.
The crime-solving partnership is at the forefront of our industry today. Hardly a day goes by that some suspect or another isn’t exposed, and some crime or another isn’t breached because it was “caught on video.” In fact, some people think the security/surveillance industry isn’t getting the credit it deserves for its role in helping law enforcement agencies solve crimes. Today, as video cameras are pervasive throughout many metropolitan areas in many countries — the research firm IHS estimated that in 2014 there were 245 million professionally installed video cameras active and operational globally — we are seeing them being relied upon for evidence not just in common crimes, but in high-profile ones as well, such as acts of terrorism and police brutality.
An exclusive article written for SDM by David Margulies, media contact for the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, examines this issue. In “Hand-in-Hand: Partners Through Technology,” beginning on page 103, Margulies writes, “While the use of video from electronic security systems isn’t new, it has become a growing and significant part of the war on crime. But too often the role the industry plays in these advances in crime fighting is rarely mentioned.”
Margulies quotes Stan Martin of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, as saying, “People once thought of electronic security primarily as a deterrent. Now, as we work with law enforcement leaders nationwide, we are seeing a growing sense of true partnership and finding opportunities to help public safety agencies better utilize and regulate, when appropriate, the amazing new technology our industry is making available.”
In the residential space among consumers with home security cameras, crime-fighting is going public through social media. Margulies quotes ADT’s Bob Tucker: “For years, high quality video was limited to security systems for business and government buildings. Now, with new technology in home security devices, we are seeing increasing numbers of customers post videos on social media of suspicious activity in their neighborhoods,” Tucker says. “Too often, the security industry does not get credit from the news media for these advances in crime fighting.”
Margulies may be right about the fact that the role we, as an industry, play in public safety is undervalued, or at least under-promoted. But sometimes, even though we know our work is critical to solving crimes, we know it can’t always prevent them. I recently spoke with a security dealer who said he had been asked by police to review recorded surveillance from the cameras behind his building looking into an alley, where a young man was shot and killed the night before. While the dealer realized it may have been a gang-related killing, he was devastated to see the man’s lifeless body on the video, because he was about the same age as his son. Whether or not his video led to the identification of a suspect, he didn’t know. Let’s hope it did.