The Manchester Township Police Department is the latest Ocean County municipality to roll out "Operation Watch Dog" joining Toms River and Lakewood Township in inviting residents and businesses to register their surveillance systems and help fight crime.

It's a voluntary video surveillance registration program that's completely confidential but also one where your footage may have caught something worth police taking a look at.

"The program is 100-percent voluntary, we can't force anybody, we wouldn't force anybody to participate in this program...we want people to do it voluntarily," Captain Todd Malland tells WOBM News.

He says the only time they'd have access to your surveillance system is when you let them.

"For anybody who might be skeptical...at no time does the program give us access to their surveillance system," Malland said. "Anytime we would need to access their system would be us going to that particular location, talking to the homeowner or the business owner and having them voluntarily allow us to view what was on their surveillance system."

Police will only contact you if there is a criminal incident in the area of your security camera.

Having your system registered with police would give police knowledge of who has a system they can ask permission to access should they need it during an investigation in that area.

"Most people want to help, especially if there's a crime or a suspicious incident or something that happens in or around their business or their residence," Malland said. "People who have these surveillance systems will provide that information to us when we ask for it because they want to do their part in helping reduce crime."

Malland says this program is an effective way to collect the evidence they need to help solve a case.

"Instead of relying on somebody's recollection of what they saw or believe they saw, which we find a lot of times is inaccurate, we have tangible video evidence from their systems," Malland said.

He says the video proof will not only help trigger a persons memory but also help prosecute the suspect

"We'll know where exactly to go to if we have a time frame or when an occurrence happens, we know that maybe the person went in a certain direction and now we'll know which houses we should go to," Malland said.

He says they'll still be relying on good old fashioned police work but the surveillance footage will help them wrap up cases more quickly.

Malland says Manchester Police were in touch with Toms River Police after they rolled out "Operation Watch Dog" in their township back in April.

"I would be remiss if I didn't give tons of credit to the Toms River Police Department," Malland said. "They gave us the blueprint on how to do this and we've formed a partnership with them so that going forward we hope to be able to share databases so our investigate personnel can work with their investigators."

To learn more about "Operation Watch Dog" in Manchester Township or to register your surveillance system, head over to the department's website.

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