JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Hundreds of cameras are keeping eyes on the City of Jackson; all from the riverside location. The cameras are also helping to gather information on suspects.
“The city actually purchased 98 cameras, but through our video platform software, we were able to access over 600 cameras that are either city owned or that are on city buildings,” said Officer Sam Brow, with the Jackson Police Department.
The Real Time Command Center’s cameras captured a white car that may have been a part of a deadly shooting in December 2020 on North State Street, where 15-year-old Shamar Griffin was killed.
“It has helped and aided in high crimes like shootings. A lot of our crimes were caught on video camera and we analyzed them at the center,” said Officer Brown. “We have had the cameras to use for suspect information that were involved in some homicides, maybe the vehicles passed through, and we were able to get some information on those vehicles.’
Right now, some businesses are participating in a pilot program before this part of the monitoring goes live officially. Leaders hope investigators can save time on the job.
“If something happens, then our investigators wouldn’t necessarily have to go to that location. If they look on our video registry and see that this business has registered their system, and they can be contacted electronically, and the investigators never have to go to their businesses,” said Officer Brown.
Some organizations have brought up privacy concerns. However, Officer Brown said businesses have control over what’s accessible to JPD.
“The business that has the video system has control what they release. We don’t have access to everyone’s camera and every camera that you have. It’s strictly a volunteer basis. If your business would like to participate in the registry, then your business would register that system, and it’s a website. Your business can go on and you can click which camera. If you have six cameras and if you only want to register three, then you could do that. Then you would only have those three cameras, but that would be strictly left up to the business owner.”
The American Civil Liberties Union plans to collaborate with the City of Jackson to make sure the program avoids threatening constitutional rights.
ACLU issued the following statement:
“The right to privacy becomes vulnerable under a total surveillance system. Without the proper safeguards in place, this kind of public surveillance will inevitably lead to criminal abuse, institutional abuse, voyeurism, discriminatory targeting, and abuse for personal use. Sacrificing our civil rights and civil liberties through unchecked police surveillance is not a path to making ourselves safer. It is only a path to less freedom. The bottom line is that surveillance systems, once installed, rarely remain confined to their original purpose.”