Hattiesburg mayor pushes for citywide camera system to reduce crime

Updated: Jan. 14, 2020 at 9:59 PM CST
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - After four different shootings over the weekend, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker and other city officials have pushed for a partnership with Project NOLA.

The partnership would bring a camera surveillance system to the city, but privacy concerns have some folks pushing back.

Barker’s Facebook post talking about the recent shootings in Hattiesburg has been shared more than 400 times. In it, he brings up Project NOLA, which is a nonprofit that works with cities, individuals and businesses to place cameras in needed areas to record potential crime.

“The people who put them on their homes, business, churches and schools, they’re able to see those cameras as can we, both live and playback," said Bryan Lagarde, executive director of Project NOLA. "And we can also make it where the cameras, the live video relays over to local law enforcement as well.”

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Project NOLA says the idea is to keep communities safe and reduce crime, and it has been used in cities such as New Orleans and Natchez.

Not all city council members are on-board with it.

“Surveillance is not something that I take lightly, because there are issues of there being an individual’s right to privacy,” said Deborah Delgado, Councilwoman for Ward 2.

Other councilmembers do not think the cameras will violate privacy.

“People all around the city have Ring doorbells that face from their front porch out toward the street and are constantly recording as people are going by,” said Jeffrey George, Councilman for Ward 1. “These cameras will be facing public streets. So it’s not recording anyone’s private actions.”

Delgado thinks the city should go a different direction to reduce crime.

“I would like to see us have more policemen on the street,” Delgado said. “At least you would have a human being.”

George believes project NOLA will keep Hattiesburg safer.

“I think that this program and Project NOLA being put in place adds an layer of security,” George said.

Barker says he plans to ask the council to vote on the Project NOLA cameras in the near future.

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