Technology and public-private partnerships are already at work in a new initiative to keep the public safe and deter crime, Gary Mayor Jerome Prince announced last week. The mayor made the announcement at a press conference held at the RailCats Baseball Stadium, one of the first businesses to sign up for Operation Safe Zone.
The RailCats Stadium is now a safe zone after installing security cameras that link directly to the Gary Police Department, signage that identifies the stadium as a safe zone, and a blue flashing light on the stadium wall.
“This technology will allow Gary Police to monitor activity in real time. Operation Safe Zone will help to keep our businesses, apartment buildings, any entity in the city safer. Having this technology puts us that much further ahead of the folks who don’t act responsibly,” Mayor Prince said.
Ron Brewer, city councilman and chair of the council’s public safety committee urged more businesses in the city join Operation Safe Zone. “We want our families, young people, our citizens and visitors to be safe. I look forward to supporting every effort to make sure it works.”
Mayor Prince said Operation Safe Zone is a pilot program adopted by the city based on evidence from communities across the country.
Detroit, Michigan was the first to offer a similar security camera program called Project Green Light. In 2016, the Detroit Police Dept. encouraged liquor and convenience stores with histories of violent crimes to install surveillance cameras that sent continuous video to the Detroit PD for real-time monitoring. Signage and a green light on the property told the public the police were watching.
Detroit police found that customers entering establishments with the green light felt safer and preferred to shop at those stores with the camera systems.
GPD is using technology provided by Fusus Real-Time Crime Center. Fusus representative Rick Busko said, “Traditional policing alone is not the answer. The answer is policing along with leveraging technology and community partnerships, and that is what Fusus brings to Gary.”
GPD Corporal Larry McKinley said the video feed from the safe zone partners is monitored at a central site but can also be accessed by officers in each police district. Operation Safe Zone participants can expect a faster response time from the Gary Police in the event of an emergency or criminal activity.
McKinley said a component of Operation Safe Zone lets residents add their Ring Doorbell cameras to a registry maintained by the GPD. If needed, police can contact those residents and ask to see footage that may be connected to a crime.
Five businesses have signed up for Operation Safe Zone said Joy Holliday, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Violence Prevention.