Detroit teams up with 500th Project Green Light business

Flashing green lights can now be seen at 506 Detroit locations. 

Detroit police chief James Craig and mayor Mike Duggan celebrated a major milestone this week, with the opening of the city's 500th Project Green Light location.  

Project Green Light is a high-tech program that allows police to monitor businesses in realtime using high definition video surveillance. It began with eight gas stations in 2016, and now includes apartment buildings, restaurants and party stores, even churches and entire plazas.

Since its launch, the city says violent crime at or near Green Light businesses has gone down 29 percent compared to 2015. Police also say the program has directly impacted a 40 percent reduction in carjackings from 2015 to 2018. 

"They're down dramatically again in the first 10 weeks of this year and it's because the business owners in this town spent the money to make theor own customers' safety their highest priority," mayor Mike Duggan said at a press conference. 

The latest Green Light location opened Monday on Livernois, Three Thirteen. The shop is "Detroit's Brand Name" for clothing, accessories and other Detroit-related gifts. 

"I understand its importance and value in our community, and just to offer another thing to make our customers feel that much more safer." said Clement Brown, the shop's owner. 

"I can't tell you the level of comfort it gives not just our tenants, not just the employees that work there, but especially the residents that come there to shop," said Mike Curis, owner of Riverbend Plaza. 

The city says a key factor in crime reduction is visibility. Participating businesses received roughly 66,000 visits from officers in 2018 alone.

"I'd be remiss not to talk about the men and women who wear the uniform to really play a key role in stopping by, visiting our Green Light locations and making our neighborhood safe," police chief James Craig said.

While business owners pay between $450 to about $1,700 to join the program, some feel the 24-hour surveillance invades privacy. Others have voiced concerns they worry officers neglect non-Green Light businesses. Others are concerned there is no concrete crime data.

"There hasn't been any research one way or another, other than the fact that carjackings in the city are down 50 percent," Duggan said. 

Chief Craig says officials from more than 50 cities have come to Detroit to learn more about the program. Craig credited the program in solving a "significant number" of violent crimes, like the robbery and shooting of a transgender woman

"Within minutes of that incident, that tragedy, the suspects were arrested. That's Green Light."

The city also announced last week it's expanding Project Green Light to include nearly 1,000  traffic light cameras at major intersections. And the goal for 2019: 800 Green Light locations.