Mississippi city hopes to add 50 new crime cameras this summer with residents’ help

Published 7:44 am Thursday, May 2, 2024

May is Crime Camera Participation Month, and a new website encourages Mississippi residents to sponsor, purchase or register 50 new cameras for their community.

At the new website, www.RiverCitiesCCP.com, Miss-Lou residents will be able to join the crime camera program by purchasing a camera, sponsoring a camera or registering a camera they already own.

City of Natchez officials invited neighbors and law enforcement partners in Adams County, Vidalia, Louisiana, and Concordia Parish to announce the launch of a campaign to install more Project NOLA cameras, which have cloud storage and are accessible in real-time by law enforcement agencies to help solve crimes.

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In February 2020, near the end of Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell and Police Chief Walter Armstrong’s administration, it was announced that the City of Natchez would receive a U.S. Department of Justice grant to enhance public safety with the creation of a community crime camera program.

The nearly  $150,000 grant came from the Gulf States Regional Law Enforcement Technology Assistance Initiative.

“This grant was applied for and received a few years ago under the prior administration. Because of COVID, change of administration and other delays, we never got the cameras actually up,” Mayor Dan Gibson said. “We were able to reinstate the program just a year ago and we’re at the point where we need citizen participation.”

The goal of the crime camera program is to install more than 50 new crime cameras in high crime areas over this summer, Gibson said. Because of population and need, these cameras will likely be placed inside the Natchez-Adams County area, Gibson said. To do this the city needs community participation to identify where the cameras are needed most, he added.

To the neighboring residents in the Town of Vidalia, Mayor Buz Craft said, “Citizens of Vidalia do not need to try and get one of the 50 that Natchez is trying to get. We’re in good shape but we are going to be adding more. We’re looking at strategic areas in our neighborhoods to do that and we’re not going to put that on the citizens to get these cameras. Our IT department has worked hard to establish the fiber going throughout the town that’s required to get these cameras up and running.”

Community members can participate in the program in a number of ways.

They can register their existing cameras to help the city develop a directory of camera locations to enhance the expediency of criminal investigations.

They can also purchase cameras to have installed at their homes or businesses. These cameras will be accessible by both city and county law enforcement.

“Some of our most dire cases have been solved using camera footage. It prevents people from being involved in things they otherwise would not want to be involved in. Plus, if we have camera footage, there is no denying that the person actually did the crime,” Natchez Police Chief Cal Green said. “The more cameras we are able to get up, the better we will be able to police crime in our community.”

The federal grant also enables the city to provide crime cameras at no cost to residents in high-crime neighborhoods. Approximately 45 cameras will be given out. This includes installation and two years of fully monitored cloud storage, officials said.

Requests for the grant-funded cameras can be submitted via the website www.RiverCitiesCCP.com.

Finally, residents can “adopt a camera” to have installed on a home or business in a high-crime neighborhood, officials said.

“We encourage everyone to go to that site,” Gibson said. “The deadline is May 31. We have to have all requests by that date.”

Green said not everyone who requests a camera will receive one. Only those who are in an area of need will be considered. Also, the location must have WiFi and electricity for a camera to be installed.

Partners in this community crime camera program include the City of Natchez and Town of Vidalia with the Natchez and Vidalia police departments, the Adams County and Concordia Sheriff’s Offices, Project NOLA, Envisage Research and Analytics and eSouth Technologies.