How Video Surveillance Cameras Can Prevent Crime Before it Happens
These days, it’s not hard to find the video surveillance cameras that exist in many brick-and-mortar stores. One reason is because this popular surveillance technique can be relatively inexpensive in comparison with other costly surveillance methods, like hiring a security guard. In fact, businesses may be able to benefit from government-funded video surveillance grants, as the Department of Homeland Security awards billions of dollars per year to U.S. cities for safety purposes like video surveillance.
And business owners aren’t hiding these cameras, either. In fact, having them in plain sight is part of the plan: video cameras are not only useful for recording crimes in order to identify thieves, but also to deter criminals from committing crimes in the first place. Knowing that your behavior could be caught on camera can sometimes be enough to prevent crime, if not also supporting evidence for the crime after it’s been committed.
Video surveillance can prevent crime before it happens, but only if your video surveillance system has the support it needs to work that way. Here are three attributes your video surveillance system needs in order to prevent crime before it happens.
- A Well-trained Monitoring Staff. Depending on your business, you may have a small number of cameras that focus on one room or a large number of cameras that can see the span of several large areas, inside and outside. No matter what your setup is, having a well-trained staff to oversee what’s happening on these cameras is one way to prevent crime before it happens.
Video monitors or camera operators should be trained in not only the systems and processes your business sets up for when a crime is in progress or has been detected, but also those “soft skills” that can make a team of people watching your business work for you. For example, according to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, a surveillance team can often come to know the faces of local offenders, giving them a leg up on possibly preventing crime. Being well-versed in the community, the types of recurring local crime and even basic training like how to recognize someone who is high on drugs, can help prevent crime before it happens.
- The Right Number of Cameras. When installing your video surveillance system, it’s tempting to fill every nook and cranny with a camera to catch everything that happens in or around your store. And the intention there is right — as a business owner, you want to secure your location, which is why you are setting up video surveillance in the first place. However, an unmanageable number of cameras can have a negative effect on your surveillance plan.
GCN, a website that delivers technology assessments, says that the best approach is to start small and place cameras in your area carefully and thoughtfully. You’ll want to start with cameras that film the most vulnerable spots in your store, like the cash register or the entrance. Then, as your staff becomes more well-trained on how to respond to activity seen on the video surveillance system, you can feel secure in adding more cameras into the mix to strengthen your method of crime prevention.
- Integration with the Right Technology. While training your monitoring staff to be well-versed in your surveillance plan and preparing them to know what to do to prevent and report crime is important, it’s not enough. With the technology we have at our fingertips today, it’s extremely beneficial for business owners to evaluate ways to integrate their video surveillance systems into technologies they are using every day, or processes and systems that make communicating the crime faster and easier for all involved.
The Urban Institute, a research organization dedicated to bringing objective analysis and expertise to policy debates, says that in their evaluation of three cities, integrating video surveillance technology into all manners of law enforcement activities proved to strengthen their surveillance technique, as doing this created a more effective system overall. For businesses, that could mean streaming your video surveillance to mobile devices or discussing possible integrations with your local police department.
Business owners can more efficiently prevent crime if they make it easier to communicate the situation, whether that’s seeing the video or an automated alert, using technology we use every day.
Video surveillance systems can not only be effective at catching criminals after the fact, but when set up properly, these systems can prevent crime before it happens. Having a well-trained staff, the right number of cameras and proper integrations with other communication systems will leave business owners with a setup that works to protect their business in multiple ways.
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