Since 1972, the National Neighborhood Watch program has encouraged residents to be the eyes and ears in their neighborhoods. The program calls upon residents to assist law enforcement in the prevention of crimes by monitoring their blocks and providing information to law enforcement that could lead to arrests.

For decades, empowered Neighborhood Watch program participants have proudly displayed signs in their neighborhoods. At its heart, the program engenders safety and a sense of community.

A 21st-century neighborhood security approach includes a variety of site cameras, ranging from company security systems, to app-based monitors and do-it-yourself setups. The options abound, and homeowners, businessowners, renters and apartment residents commonly have cameras rolling and sensors active.

In 2013, the Richardson Police Department began another program that relies on residents to perpetuate a secure city. The Video Crime Watch program functions with the help of volunteers who are willing to share surveillance footage as needed in order to help solve crimes.

Via the Video Crime Watch program, residents may sign up online, letting the PD know about their residential and business cameras. If a crime is committed, police may use the database to quickly determine if any residents or businesses might have caught evidence on their systems. Even footage of someone walking past a property could break a case.

A common misconception is that sharing camera information gives officers access to the security systems. This program does not access cameras. It can’t pull video, images or audio. No user credentials are collected and no direct access is given. Instead, the database serves as a helpful list of residents who might be of service.

“It’s a voluntary program,” Tommy Davis, Community Relations Officer for the Richardson Police Department, said. “If you have a system and you want to share that you have it, that’s helpful to us. We’ve had success with it.”

Video Crime Watch has resulted in crimes solved and arrests made. In one incident, a neighbor’s camera identified the perpetrator in a nearby house break-in. The results through the years speak for themselves, as residents have helped police officers curb criminal activity.

The RPD was visionary in its implementation of the program. “We were one of the first agencies in the country to do this,” Davis said.

“We were getting calls from as far away as Canada about our Video Crime Watch program.” The program now has hundreds of participants who all make Richardson a more secure place. In addition to the Neighborhood Crime Watch and Video Crime Watch programs, other Richardson community-police department partnerships include Crime Watch Patrol and Dog Walker Watch. When it comes to safety, a nosy neighbor is the best kind, Davis said.

“A lot of cases are solved or prevented because people called in. The watchful neighbor is the single-most effective crime-fighting tool,” Davis said. “That’s what’s going to keep a lot of the bad guys out of your area. That helps us out and it makes our job so much easier.”

Visit for more information and to sign up your residence or business in the Video Crime Watch program.