JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Fondren home and business owners now have a new way to help police in Precinct Four fight crime.
Monday, the Fondren Renaissance Foundation (FRF) launched its virtual neighborhood watch program.
Through the platform, home and business owners will be able to submit videos and pictures from their surveillance cameras to a server that can be viewed by the Jackson Police Department’s Precinct Four.
The foundation has been working on the system for a couple of months.
Leaders were inspired in part by Nextdoor, an online platform neighbors use to discuss crime and other topics in their communities.
“I’ve been watching on Nextdoor where people post their videos, which are informative, but there needed to be a way to better organize them,” said FRF Executive Director Rebecca Garrison. “This will put all those videos in one place where officers in Precinct Four can go to see them.”
Garrison said the tool is especially important as the department faces an officer shortage. JPD has about 300 sworn officers, but only 200 or so working the streets, according to JPD figures.
“We understand that we don’t have enough officers in Precinct Four,” said Garrison. “We hope that by doing this, we can put more virtual eyes in the neighborhood.”
The news also comes as the department itself relies more on video footage to help solve crimes.
The Lumumba administration recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Real-Time Command Center, which will give JPD the ability to tie into web-based home and business surveillance systems across the city.
Although web-based, Fondren’s virtual watch is not connected to the command center, nor would submitting videos give the police department access to private cameras.
Instead, home and business owners would be able to click on a link to upload surveillance videos and photos to a private server, which could then be viewed by the precinct.
“We had discussions about privacy issues,” Garrison explained. “At one point, we wanted to make it a publicly viewed site, but airing on the side of caution, we decided that JPD should be the only ones who can see the videos.”
It was not known how often videos would be viewed. However, Garrison is hoping it would be often, saying that Precinct Four Cmdr. Obie Wells would receive an email notification every time new footage is submitted.
Said Garrison, “The hope is that if we can get enough video footage of the same people in the same neighborhoods (committing crimes), it would be helpful to Precinct Four.”
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