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Madison police highlight importance of surveillance cameras in solving crime

MADISON (WKOW) — Madison police claim surveillance images and video led to the arrest of a man they say attacked women in the downtown area over the past week.

The cameras at or near the four different areas where the women allegedly encountered the man helped them put a name to his face: 26-year-old Luis Ruiz-Ugalde.

“We see cameras helping us solve anything from retail theft to a homicide,” said Joel DeSpain a Madison police spokesperson.

Sometimes grabbing video or images from one surveillance camera helps, but oftentimes they will use images from several in order to start putting together a pattern of a suspect or victim’s movements leading up to the crime or immediately afterward.

“Now you start looking at other video in the area, and all of a sudden you have another chunk of video that’s even better,” said DeSpain. “You’re able to start following the movement of this person from one street to another, and where were they earlier in the night?”

Beyond solving crimes, police are finding that they can prevent them in some cases as well.

“It does, I think, keep people behaving better if they know they’re being recorded,” said DeSpain.

These days, there are plenty of cameras popping up all over the city. Many of them are public and belong to the city or state. But businesses and the Madison bus system are finding them useful.

Bus cameras were also key in identifying Ruiz-Ugalde when he allegedly tried to grope a 13-year-old on a Madison bus Sunday night.

Those who are being recorded often have concerns about invasions to their privacy, but DeSpain said the cameras are there to make the streets safer.

“Frankly, from where I sit, I haven’t seen that happen,” he said. “What I see is us solving cases and getting criminals off the street.”

Sara Maslar-Donar

Reporter, WKOW 27 News

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