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City gets $150K camera grant

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Police Department has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the Department of Justice to purchase and install crime cameras throughout the city, officials announced Thursday.

Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong said the grant was applied for around October or November last year and he’d just heard the news Thursday morning that it was approved.

“We applied late last year and thought we’d hear something in December, and when we hadn’t heard anything we just didn’t know the outcome until today,” Armstrong said. “… This is a huge crime-fighting tool that we will have at our disposal that has already proven to be successful throughout the year 2019. We hope to arrange some group meetings with citizens and find out where they can be set up throughout the city.”

Armstrong said the grant would cover the full cost of more than 65 cameras through Project NOLA — a New Orleans-based non-profit — as well as up to two years of monthly data storage fees.

Armstrong said the department plans to purchase a combination of three camera types offered by Project NOLA as they are needed, the least expensive of which have a fixed lens facing only one direction.

Other cameras could be controlled remotely, zoom in up to 1,000 yards, read license plates and detect gunshots, Armstrong said.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said city officials would still have approximately $16,000 allocated for purchasing more cameras that the Board of Aldermen approved last month and would ask residents who want to participate in Project NOLA to supply WiFi and a $20 a month fee for data storage.

“We will continue to use that ($16,000) for the purpose of crime cameras,” Grennell said. “That will not change. The board approved that the $16,000 would be used for cameras and if there are any businesses, organizations or residents that wanted to participate with the camera in their area or near their home, they could pay for the cloud storage fee that is $20 a month. If there is some hardship out there the board said that they would take it case-by-case. For example, if there is an area that someone wanted a camera and didn’t have the $20 a month for storage, it would be brought before the board.”

Grennell said the law officials would determine where to place new cameras with the grant funding once it is received.

“If there are residents out there, organizations or businesses that are interested in that program, they need to contact the city,” Grennell said. “As far as the grant goes, that is going to be left up to the police department in terms of strategically placing cameras throughout the city.”

Armstrong said those interested in participating in Project NOLA should contact the Natchez Police Department at 601-445-5565.