DPD video camera program targets gas station crime

Detroit police has new high-tech surveillance allowing officers to watch gas stations in real time -- from a command center.

A crowded gas station at night is a rare sight in the city but officials were there to see a new plan in action.

"I won't tell you,  you won't have an incident," said Mayor Mike Duggan. "But chances are you can convict."

Crime is keeping customers like Lola Holton away from the local gas station and the numbers back it up.

"Twenty to 25% of the shootings happen at gas stations," Duggan said.

In the last few months alone, FOX 2 has covered four carjackings at gas stations and at least three other shootings all within the city limits. But a simple green light indicates that someone new is watching,

Eight gas stations signed up for project green light paying about $6,000 for HD cameras and lighting, giving police access to those cameras.  Now they will monitor what goes on as it goes on.

"Since we launched Jan 1 there have been four such hits where we've seen narcotic activity in progress," said Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

And those working at the gas station feel safer already. When a clerk went out to confront a loiterer for example, he did so knowing someone had his back.

"I came back in and the phone rang," said clerk Abe Bazzi. "It was police asking if we were okay. It was amazing."

The real advantage according to police, is what can be done once a crime is committed. A picture of the suspect was sent to officers in the area seconds after the crime is committed and other vital info as well.

"You put such HD cameras that we can see the license plate," Duggan said. "We can pick out faces and traffic."
Any business who stays open past 10 at night can sign up at the city's website. The goal is 100 to 200 businesses monitored by police by the end of 2016.

"We have the ability in another month or so to add four a week," Duggan said.

For businesses it's simple - get customers who left long ago to come back.

The mayor says this system is already paying off. While he wouldn't talk specifics he did say having the police monitoring gas station cameras had already led to an arrest.

To learn more, go to detroitmi.gov

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