1) Good cameras are surprisingly affordable. Expensive doesn’t always equal better. You can get good footage from a simple 3 Mega Pixel (MP) Swann camera set that comes with 4 cameras and 1 NVR (recorder) for under $800. You can find identical 4, 8 and 16 camera sets, like the one used in the video below, at retailers such as Amazon and Costco. If you’re willing to spend a little more, there are also good 4 Mega Pixel options that will provide even clearer footage.

2) Analog vs digital. While we generally recommend digital cameras, modern analog cameras can also capture clear images at a slightly lower cost. Analog HD-TVI cameras connected to a coaxial cable can record 720p/1080p footage similar to a good 3 MP digital camera. One advantage of modern digital network cameras like the Swann system mentioned above is that they are powered through the same network cable that transmits footage to the recorder. With a plug-and-play IP camera set you can just connect one standard ethernet cable from the camera to the recorder and you’re ready to go!

3) Lights! Cameras! Action! Good exterior lighting around your house can deter crime by itself. Bright lighting is also the key to recording clear images in full color at night. If the porch lights had been dimmer, the camera would be limited to black and white infrared footage.

4) Night vision.Any system you purchase should have a minimum of 30 IR (infrared). The more infrared (36 or 42 for example), the better the images you’re likely to see at night – when most crime happens.

5) Position, Position, Position. It’s important to mount your cameras as low as possible while still keeping them high enough to avoid
vandalism. We recommend mounting them no higher than 10 feet off the ground. Note how the low position and horizontal angle of the cameras in this clip provided NOPD with a clear view of the perpetrators’ faces.

6) Know thy DVR. Understand the default settings on your DVR or NVR, and don’t wait until a crime happens to figure out how to retrieve footage. Many systems are set to “motion activated” recording by default. You should change the setting to continuously record so you can view incidents that may not trigger the motion detector. Adjust the recorder’s image quality and frame per second (FPS) settings – the cameras will do little good if they are set on a low quality and don’t capture crisp images. Once you adjust the quality settings, be aware of how long the DVR will store footage. The more high-quality camera feeds connected to the DVR, the fewer days your footage will be stored.

7) Beware of wireless. We do not recommend wireless cameras. They are more expensive and prone to quality loss when anything interferes with the wireless signal.

8) Register your camera with SafeCam NOLA. If you live in New Orleans and own a security camera, we ask you to register your contact information with SafeCam NOLA (http://www.safecamnola.com). SafeCam NOLA is NOPD’s confidential directory of camera locations across the city. All camera locations are geo-coded into an interactive map, allowing detectives to quickly contact you if a crime takes place in your neighborhood. No one monitors your system. You alone have access.