SAN JOSE (KCBS) – The San Jose City Council has approved a plan that will allow police to tap into private security cameras to help catch criminals.

The idea was first proposed by San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo after video from a homeowner’s surveillance camera helped identify an arson suspect.

“It saved a lot of people from misery, if not from harm,” Liccardo said. “We’re seeing in other cities like Philadelphia – they’ve used this in a two year period leading to over 200 arrests. So we know it can work and it doesn’t cost much money at all.”

Homeowners would voluntarily register their surveillance system under the plan. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said it is another crime fighting tool.

“Cameras have been very helpful in solving crimes and dealing with problems in our neighborhood when the police are doing an investigation,” Reed said. “If we start with a list of people that have cameras, that will speed things up for the police department. It’s purely voluntary so nobody has to be worried about it.”

The police union, which is supporting Liccardo’s opponent Dave Cortese in the mayoral race, said the additional cameras can’t make up for 400 fewer officers.