Salisbury Police Department hacking cameras to solve crimes

Salisbury police are hacking into cameras around the city, but not quite in the way you might think.

It's part of a program they say helped catch a man who was running around with a gun at an apartment complex just minutes after a shooting.

That police department's program is using security cameras they don't run, but now have access to, like ones at neighborhoods, businesses and apartment complexes to fight crime.

The idea of fighting crime from a desk is a little strange to any law enforcement officer, but that's what Lieutenant Patrick Smith was doing Monday morning when he was finishing up work on a shooting.

"I came in around 3 in the morning, reviewed the footage, and got the footage from the actual shooting incident that happened," Lt. Smith said.   

Police had been given access to the apartment security cameras, so Smith was able to catch something that, just a few short months ago, he would not have been able to see.

"A group of people at the apartment complex, running off at 4:30, 5:00 in the morning, caught my attention, pulled it over, and in the next frame, there was an armed subject there, shirt in the left hand and gun in the right," Lt. Smith said.  

Police say that armed subject was Dontrell Horne. He was arrested within minutes. Residents at zion hill apartments say he was a familiar face and had been given a no trespass notice. 

"Looking at an example like this, to see and to show that it works" Lt. Smith said.    

Salisbury police could not show us the footage of the apartment complex as the incident involving horne is still under investigation, but Smith says what's happening isn't 'big brother,'  it's a tool, like the partnership Salisbury and many others have with doorbell camera services like Ring--just with more direct access--allowing crimefighting to become better.

"Looking at the advancements we've made, it's the future of policing, so to speak," Smith said. 

He says they work with the businesses to get access to the cameras online said.

The police department says they only use footage from these cameras if they have a reason to, it's not meant to be 24/7 surveillance.

They also say the program will likely lead to an eventual expansion within the department.