Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs and a dozen city employees and interested parties traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to observe a new, high-tech camera system for the city.
Project NOLA works with individuals, associations, and municipalities to place cost-subsidized high definition crime cameras, gunshot detectors, and license plate recognition cameras in needed areas. Video is transmitted via the Internet to the Project NOLA National Real-Time Crime Center (RTCC) located at the University of New Orleans, where analysts provide valuable information to units responding to breaking crimes and dangerous situations.
Their operations center at the University of New Orleans is where Mayor Flaggs and company traveled to view the cameras firsthand and learn how they work. The military-grade cameras can pick out fine details at long range, including serial numbers off of guns.
“They held the gun in the right position and our camera was able to not only identify the type of gun, but it was able to get the serial number off the gun from several hundred feet away,” explained Bryan Lagarde, Executive Director of Project NOLA.
The onlookers, including Police Chief Penny Jones, both Aldermen Alex Monsour and Michael Mayfield, Lt. Derrick Smith, representatives from Main Street, and concerned citizens gave a collective, “Wow” to the video.
Kevin Mahoney, a member of the Wildwood Subdivision Neighborhood Watch, first heard about the cameras from Chief Jones.
“She was the Assistant Chief back then and she came to our neighborhood watch program and mentioned the camera systems out there,” Mahoney said. “We looked at several of them and settled on Project NOLA as the one we wanted.”
Mahoney helped organize today’s trip to New Orleans to see the headquarters and showed the system to the city leaders.
“We need this,” said Mayor Flaggs. “If someone fires a gun the camera will immediately zoom in to the location of the gunshot. We will see the shooter, the gun, their car – all of it!”
Chief Jones, responding in a text message stated, “We live in an age where we depend on technology. ‘Somebody has to tell the story.’ We are trying to make Vicksburg a safer place. Police can’t be there all the time when a crime is being committed, a camera won’t let you down. It’s time for a change. The City of Vicksburg is ready.”
Most of the cost of the cameras is covered by a grant, so the cost to the city is minimal. Neighborhood watch groups can also opt-in and pay an annual fee, starting around $300 to have the cameras in their neighborhood.
“This is the most cost-effective program I’ve seen and it will be perfect for Vicksburg,” said Mayor Flaggs.
See a typo? Report it here.