Surveillance cameras role increasing in crime solving

Sheriff says technology is the biggest change he’s seen in crime prevention

The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office utilizes multiple methods in an effort to stop crime in its tracks-and as time goes on, it’s been able to call on both the public and the latest technology to further those efforts more and more.

More than ever, the private security cameras of St. Charles Parish residents for their homes and businesses have helped police catch criminals in the act, and that trend figures to keep climbing upward as more people invest in that technology themselves.

St. Charles Sheriff Greg Champagne has called the advanced usage of that kind of technology the biggest change he’s seen in crime prevention in the 20-plus years he’s held his position.

“Surveillance has been big,” he said. “Now, any business is handicapping own safety without those cameras. It’s big, and also for residential use.”

The Sheriff’s Office has developed a database that residents can sign up for in order to allow police to access their cameras in order to scout an area to solve crimes.

“We’re not looking to spy, but if there’s a burglar in the neighborhood and I can see on our cap who has the cameras … we’ve solved a lot of crimes that way,” Champagne said. Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Pat Yoes concurs.

Yoes cited a number of recent examples where security footage helped solve or advance criminal cases.

One such case was that of Larry Thompson, who was convicted in July on charges of the second degree murder of David Scott of Houston. In December of 2014, Thompson was arrested and charged with shooting Scott to death and a second man in the foot at a Joe Louis Lane bar in Hahnville. Thompson had apparently argued with Scott over him being with his former girlfriend at the bar, according to St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s detectives.

“There was video surveillance inside of the bar, which captured the murder,” Yoes said. “The evidence was extremely helpful during the trial.”

In October, Daniel Beckley was convicted of the second degree murder of his stepdaughter, 16-year-old Jorian White. White’s body was found left in a ditch on St. Rose Ave. in St. Rose in April of 2016.

Yoes said that video surveillance recovered from several businesses and residences showed Beckley and his vehicle was along the route he drove to dispose of the body and on his route back.

Court documents noted a camera at the gas station where he said he stopped for fuel revealed Beckley opened the trunk of his vehicle and appeared to manipulate a white sheet and towel before shoving it back in and closing it. Other surveillance cameras contradicted Beckley’s alibi.

And more recently, Yoes noted that cameras have helped advance a case where several vehicles were burglarized in Bayou Gauche.

“Video surveillance was collected and images of the suspect were released to the media to help identify the suspect,” Yoes said. “While the suspect has not been developed as of yet this shows how video surveillance can be used to assist in investigations.”

He said approximately 100 residents are currently signed up in the Sheriff’s Office database. On the Sheriff’s Parish website, there is a link residents may click to register their cameras.

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