Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn was joined by Mayor Byron Brown and Captain Jeff Rinaldo of the Buffalo Police Department to encourage citizens to participate in the Buffalo SafeCam program.
Buffalo SafeCam seeks to promote public safety by allowing city residents to register their home and business surveillance cameras with the Buffalo Police Department to assist in solving crimes.
Earlier this year, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office successfully prosecuted a case using video evidence that was obtained from a homeowner who registered their security camera with Buffalo SafeCam. Clay Rhodes, 61, of Buffalo was sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller to a determinate sentence of 10 years in prison followed by 5 years of post-release supervision. The defendant, a prior felon, pleaded guilty to one count of Robbery in the Second Degree and one count of Assault in the Second Degree for attacking a woman in South Buffalo.
On May 27, 2018, at approximately 11:55 p.m., the elderly female victim was returning to her home on Owahn Place in the City of Buffalo when Rhodes grabbed her purse and violently pushed her to the ground. The victim fell, fracturing her pelvis in two places and slamming her head on the concrete. The defendant ran off with her purse.
Neighbors, who heard the victim’s screams, watched the defendant climb a fence and enter their backyard. One of the neighbors called 911. After a brief search of the area, police were able to locate the defendant who matched the description given by the Good Samaritan.
A resident, who followed the defendant down the street, witnessed Rhodes going through the victim’s purse and discarding items. The video fully corroborated the civilian’s story and was helpful to leveraging a guilty plea.
City of Buffalo residents who are interested in participating in the program are only required to provide their basic contact information and the location of the camera. Once registration is complete, a member from the Buffalo Police Department will contact the resident by phone to request a visit to their home or business to verify the information provided. There is no cost to register and personal information remains confidential.
The Buffalo Police Department will only contact a participant if there is a crime-related incident within the vicinity of the security camera. Police may request to view and copy video/images captured to assist in the investigation of the crime.
Since the program was announced in 2015 more than 450 residents and business owners have enrolled in Buffalo SafeCam. Registration has slowed in recent years with only 25 civilians registering their surveillance cameras in 2019.
“I would like to see more residents and businesses registered with this program because this is essentially a digital neighborhood watch. If we have video of a crime or video from the vicinity of where a crime occurred, my office can use that footage as evidence,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn. “I want to thank Mayor Brown and the Buffalo Police Department for bringing this program to the City of Buffalo.”
To register your home or business, please visit the Buffalo Police Department website and fill out an online form (https://www.bpdny.org/162/Register-Now) or call BPD headquarters at 716-851-4444.