The City of Starkville purchased 10 new cameras to place at major intersections of the city to deter crime and help investigations.
Lovelady said the city is expanding its already existing camera program. Some cameras age back almost 10 years.
“What we’re doing is, we’re expanding a project that the police department has already been doing for years now... It’s something we’ve always been open about,” Lovelady said. “Sometimes, folks don’t like to talk about putting cameras up, but it’s really helped with both misdemeanor and felony cases.”
Sergeant Brandon Lovelady, who is the police department’s public information officer, said these cameras will not be used to give speeding tickets, but rather to provide evidence or leads for other crimes.
The expansion includes the new cameras, but it also involves another city department, Information Technology. Technology Director Joel Clements said his department played a large role in the project.
“The IT department has been working closely with the police department on this project,” Clements said. “The IT department gathered requirements, worked with vendors, evaluated the available technologies and then determined the best way forward. The IT Department will then acquire the equipment and facilitate its deployment.”
Clements said the city plans to acquire more cameras as time moves on.
“We are planning to have 40 cameras active through town within five years,” he said.
Pulling up the live video feed on his computer, Lovelady explained the current PTZ cameras are still functional, but they have some limitations. The PTZ cameras only record whatever is in frame, meaning if an officer zooms in on the live feed, that is all it will record.
“PTZ are great cameras, but the box that you’re pointing at is all it’s recording,” Lovelady said. "If you’re 10 feet on the side of the camera, you don’t have it."
Lovelady said each new camera will include four HD lenses which will allow for a 360 degree angle view. They will be run on fiber optics, which will give better resolution compared to the previous cameras’ bandwidth limitations.
“New program going forward will use fiber optics to get us past some of those data issues we had in the past, and just provide a better solution going forward,” Lovelady said. “I really think it’s a good thing.”
In addition, the new cameras will be more overt.
“The newest ones are way more overt... We’ve never been trying to hide anything,” Lovelady said. “The new ones, you’ll see the arms connected directly to the box, and the box has red and blue flashing lights. You can see those things as far as your line of sight is.”
The six current cameras in place were made possible by a Justice Assistance Grant which paid for other police department areas, like overtime during football games or DUI detail.
“That same grant is what, in the past, has funded these cameras,” Lovelady said.
The 10 new cameras, however, will be paid from the Information Technology’s Equipment and Machinery account. The Board of Aldermen voted Feb. 5 to enter a lease purchasing agreement with Active Solutions, LLC to acquire the “10 surveillance cameras with all-weather equipment enclosures.”
The total amount of the lease is $59,237.42 that the city will pay $1,153 each month for 60 months.
Clements said the cameras should be fully deployed within the next six weeks.
“This will be a powerful tool to continue to provide the high level of safety and security the people of Starkville, as well as our visitors, expect and deserve,” Clements said. “It will serve as a force-multiplier for the police department.”
Mayor Lynn Spruill said the new cameras will allow the city to be on the forefront of safety.
“This project is an opportunity for the city to be proactive in its approach to safety,” Spruill said. “Our desire is to continue to grow our events and as such, we have a responsibility to keep our community safe for all our visitors and residents.“
Lovelady said the cameras will be placed in high-traffic areas.
“We’re saturating to include the parks, Fire Station Park, J.L. King Park and the Sportsplex. There’s a large portion in this area, but that’s where we include all of our events,” Lovelady said. “That’s just where we are starting. Eventually, we will have them covering all of town at major intersections. They’re not on neighborhood streets.”
Lovelady said the new cameras will provide many benefits to not only the city and police department, but also to the people of the community who may be the victim of a crime.
“Everybody has their opinions but it’s a positive thing,” Lovelady said. “On the police department’s side, we hope that it deters crime, and if you had an incident at or near your residence, you would wish that there was as much evidence as possible. Just feeling safe.”