The mayor of Hattiesburg is moving forward with a plan to install a camera surveillance system across town as a way to reduce crime.
WDAM-TV reported that Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker brought up the idea during a Facebook video message to his constituents during which he also discussed a recent crime spree that has seen four shootings over the weekend.
Specifically he said the city could move forward with a partnership with Project NOLA.
“This partnership will deploy high definition cameras throughout the city. These cameras can detect gunshots and read license plates. Cities that have used these cameras have seen significant decreases in violent crime over time,” he said.
The mayor said the idea was first brought to the city council’s attention by the police chief back in November, and they’ve already solicited feedback. Barker said he will ask the council to authorize the purchase of the first of the cameras.
Project NOLA is a New Orleans-based organization that works with cities and towns, organizations and individuals to put cameras and gunshot detectors in needed areas. The video is transmitted to a center in New Orleans where an analyst then provides information to officials on the ground.
The cameras are already being used in New Orleans, Natchez, Mississippi, and Fairfield, Alabama, the organization said on its website.
At least one member of the city council, Deborah Delgado, had privacy concerns about using the cameras and would prefer to see more police officers on the streets instead.
“Surveillance is not something that I take lightly, because there are issues of there being an individual’s right to privacy,” Delgado said.
But another council member, Jeffrey George, said the cameras will add an extra layer of security and wouldn’t pose a privacy concern.
“People all around the city have Ring doorbells that face from their front porch out toward the street and are constantly recording as people are going by,” said George. “These cameras will be facing public streets. So it’s not recording anyone’s private actions.”
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