The New Orleans Police Department is seeking to increase the number of eyes it has on high-crime neighborhoods.
Superintendent Michael Harrison announced a new initiative Thursday intended to expand a network of private security cameras in so-called hot spots around the city. The program, known as “Adopt-a-Block,” is part of SafeCam NOLA, the department’s official citywide camera registry.
Adopt-a-Block will work with churches, businesses and homeowners to install cameras free of charge or at a reduced rate, Harrison said.
“Simply put, visible security cameras can help prevent and solve crime,” the chief said at a news conference. “That video is an invaluable tool that helps us solve the crime more quickly.”
Melanie Talia, executive director of the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, said 38 cameras already have been installed as part of a pilot program in the 6th District, an area that includes Central City, one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city. She thanked the Millennial Spirits of Nola, a nonprofit organization, for contributing $16,000 to the project.
SafeCam NOLA now includes more than 2,500 cameras around the city. The online service allows officers to review surveillance footage from businesses and residences while investigating crimes, a step the authorities have described as increasingly important at a time when the department has struggled to attract new recruits.
“This puts video systems in the homes of people in high-crime neighborhoods,” said Larry Lane, co-founder of SafeCams8, a quickly expanding camera initiative that began in the French Quarter and has been widely used by officers in the 8th District, which includes the Quarter and the Central Business District. “It allows them to watch what happens outside their property without having to walk out.”
Among the new participants in the 6th District is New Hope Baptist Church on Rev. John Raphael Jr. Way. Arthur Garrett, the church’s chairman, said in a phone interview that on at least one occasion, authorities were able to use footage from the church after a shooting nearby.
“It’s like putting a fence around your home,” Garrett said. “Over the years here, some people have been robbed. But if a criminal is trying to make sure they don’t get caught and are aware of the cameras, they’ll think twice before they do anything.”
The New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation is accepting applications for aspiring Adopt-a-Block participants via email at email@example.com.
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