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Natchez Police Chief: Crime down in 2019

 

NATCHEZ — Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong hosted a press conference Wednesday to announce a significant drop in crime since the City of Natchez began installing crime cameras throughout the city.

There were at least 12 homicides reported in city limits, Armstrong said, adding only one homicide has been reported thus far in 2019.

Additionally, data provided by the Natchez Police Department shows a significant drop in other crimes, particularly in burglary, robbery and battery cases.

Armstrong said he also noticed a significant decrease in the number of calls received from places that were once considered high-crime areas.

“Not only has crime decreased, but criminal elements have moved on from those areas,” Armstrong said.

In December, officials announced Natchez would be participating in Project NOLA, a New Orleans nonprofit foundation that operates a crime camera program nationwide.

Since then, Armstrong said 25 cameras have been installed through the program and an additional 92 cameras purchased and installed through the Natchez Housing Authority.

Armstrong said each of these cameras use WiFi, which allows them to transmit data to NPD and to Project NOLA’s National Real-Time Crime Information Center at the University of New Orleans.

Merit Health Natchez and United Mississippi Bank donated $1,500 each to Project NOLA during Wednesday’s press conference — which in total would allow the department to purchase 10 more crime cameras, Armstrong said.

UMB Vice President of Marketing Sarah Carter-Smith and Merit Health Natchez CEO Lance Boyd said both businesses saw an opportunity to contribute to the safety of the Natchez community and challenge other local businesses to do the same.

“We at Merit Health believe there is merit in serving our community,” Boyd said. “… We want to encourage other businesses and citizens to step forward as well and contribute or match this donation.”

While some of the less-expensive cameras are stationary, Armstrong said otherws can detect gunshots, scan a 360-degree area and zoom into a target more than 1,000 feet away.

This feature allowed NPD to identify and arrest Jehron Davis, 20, after a shooting that injured a man at Holiday Apartments on April 29, Armstrong said.

“Before he could finish firing his weapon, the camera turned and focused on this individual while he was still engaged in shooting,” Armstrong said. “The camera played a major role in the identifying and the arresting of this individual.”

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said the cameras not only help detect criminal activity but also help prevent future crimes from happening.

“I want to thank the City of Natchez and Chief Armstrong for initiating this project,” Grennell said. “… These cameras have not only helped the department to solve crimes but also act as a deterrent. We have been on a mission here in this city encouraging homeowners and all of the neighborhoods in Natchez and Adams County along with businesses throughout this community to install video cameras — even if it’s not a part of Project NOLA. Any type of video technology serves as a deterrent to crime. … We are on a mission for Natchez to become crime-free as much as possible.”

The cameras cost $150 for a stationary camera or $285 for a 360-degree camera and a $20 per month for digital cloud storage, Armstrong said.

Those interested in installing a Project NOLA camera system may call the Natchez Police Department at 601-445-5565.

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