If you've got an extra eye watching from above, or hidden in your doorbell, it's increasingly possible your local cops want to know about it.

In every New Jersey county, a growing number of police departments are padding their investigation efforts by creating registries of private security cameras — those belonging to residents and businesses — so they know exactly where to look when something goes down.

Ideally, when an assault or robbery occurs, police would be able to look at a database and pinpoint one or several surveillance systems that may have caught the person(s) of interest.

"It's not big brother. It's 100 percent voluntary," said Detective Adam Emmons with the Manchester Township Police Department, which launched Operation Watchdog in July. "If an incident occurs, we can contact them."

The program mimics efforts in neighboring Toms River.

"We'll be able to quickly identify a potential suspect or gather investigative information that can be helpful with solving a case," Emmons said.

Many departments allow residents to register their systems through an online form. Registration does not give police 24/7 access to footage — they just know who to contact in the event of an emergency.

"It makes our job easier ... rather than searching for exterior cameras or knocking on doors," said Lt. Justine Kennedy with the New Providence Police Department.

The township launched its program a little over a year ago, taking a page from nearby South Plainfield.

"Unfortunately, the program has not received as much response as we had hoped," Kennedy said. "I don't know if it's not widely known that we have a program. We're hoping to get more registrants."

Other New Jersey municipalities with voluntary camera registration include (not a complete list):

  • Asbury Park
  • Avalon
  • Brigantine
  • Butler
  • Delran
  • Denville
  • Evesham
  • Fanwood
  • Glen Ridge
  • Hanover
  • Lakewood
  • Lindenwold
  • Logan
  • Long Beach
  • Princeton
  • Verona
  • Voorhees
  • Wayne
  • Winslow

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.