- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Fargo police are hoping to find private cameras to help them with public safety.

The department on Tuesday announced its participation in the national SafeCam program, which allows citizens to voluntarily register surveillance cameras placed in their homes or businesses. Police say they will contact participants only if there is criminal activity in the area and citizens can decide whether or not they want to provide the images.

Some people believe that surveillance cameras are an invasion of privacy and the city received some criticism three years ago for installing them in the downtown area, but Fargo’s acting police chief said this program is different.

“These are cameras that are owned privately that people can decide to make footage accessible to us or not,” Dave Todd said. “The downtown cameras are a little bit different. Those are city-owned. We do have the ability to monitor those if we want to. We just don’t have anybody who has the available time to do it.”

About three-dozen law enforcement agencies throughout the country are participating in SafeCam. The service is provided free to both citizens and police.

People interested in participating in the program can sign up on crimereports.com. Only Fargo police will be allowed to see the information and citizens can remove their credentials at any time. Registrants will receive a window decal in the form of a police badge.

“We hope that the sticker will deter those people who are not there for good reason, to know that that residence or business is protected,” police spokeswoman Jessica Schindeldecker said.

Police on Tuesday also announced participation in the crimereports.com mapping system. Residents will be able find up-to-date information online for most crimes, except for sexual assaults, crimes against children, domestic violence, drug cases and medical calls.

“We view these programs and interactive and proactive,” Todd said.

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