The Hopkinton Police Department is compiling a database of security cameras owned by businesses in town. It is one of a handful of Massachusetts police departments looking to identify sources of surveillance video that potentially could be used to solve crimes.

“Rather than knock on every single door," said Hopkinton Sergeant Scott Van Raalten, "and wait to find a business owner that can give us access, we can refer to this list.”

In January, Hopkinton Police launched what they call a“Business Camera Registry” as part of a community outreach effort. Van Raalten said the registry will update business owner contacts and is available to help investigators move quickly and obtain video if there is a crime nearby.

A handful of communities in Massachusetts are operating security camera programs. Falmouth police launched a surveillance camera program last week. North Attleboro, Seekonk and East Longmeadow also have registries.

In recent weeks, surveillance cameras led police to the suspect in the Feb. 24 kidnapping of 23-year-old Jassy Correia, who went missing and was later found dead after leaving a Boston nightclub. Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements said surveillance video was the key to tracking down Rhode Island resident Louis D. Coleman III.

“These days, with every investigation we have, we rely heavily on video — surveillance video of commercial areas, private areas, home videos. [They're] very helpful,” he said.

So far, 5 percent of the 126 businesses in The Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce are enrolled in the business camera registry, said chamber President Scott Richardson. He said the chamber endorses the registry program because it's voluntary. Businesses also can unregister at any time.

“It’s strictly voluntary, and I would say if any business has these cameras and if something does happen, I would assume you would want to help police track down the perpetrators,” Richardson said.

Zach Siarkos owns Bill’s Pizzeria on Main Street in Hopkinton. He said he wasn’t aware of the program that lets businesses help police solve crimes, but he likes the idea.

“Being prepared is always the right way to do things," he said. "Instead of being caught with your pants down, as they say, you get prepared before, and things work out better that way.”

At another Main Street shop, Marathon Pizza manager Payal Muthy said she doesn’t think it’s necessary.

"I don’t understand why they would suddenly bring up this kind of system all of a sudden," Muthy said. "I think this is a very safe town, and I don’t feel the need for them to do it.”

Hopkinton is a quiet town with very little crime. There are years when no violent crimes are listed in FBI crime statistics at all. But it's also the place from which the Boston Marathon starts each April. Back in 2013, it was local businesses along Boylston Street that helped law enforcement identify suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing case.

Inside the Hopkinton Public Library, Margaret Mighton talked with her friend about how much the town has changed. She's said she's concerned that a camera registry might be one change too many because it could be too intrusive.

“I think I’m kind of torn," Mighton said. "I think it’s a good idea, but I’m also concerned about 'Big Brother' being aware of everything," she said, a reference to the George Orwell novel "1984," in which society lives under constant government surveillance. "But in this day and age, I guess it’s necessary.”

Carol Rose, executive director of the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union, also has privacy concerns. Rose said her group wants to discuss parameters around how cameras are used by law enforcement.

“We've been pushing for this," she said, "saying we should have a conversation about when government, or law enforcement in particular, obtains surveillance camera technology — we should have a conversation about when they can and can't use it.”

Right now, the Boston Police Department doesn’t have an official camera registry program. A police spokesperson said that when crime happens, police canvass businesses in the area looking for security cameras.

In Hopkinton, police say the program could eventually expand to include private homes in high traffic areas.