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Police seek help with locating surveillance cameras

NATCHEZ — Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong asked for civilians’ help to make the City of Natchez safer — particularly with placing new crime cameras.

The Natchez Police Department received a grant from the United States Bureau of Justice for nearly $150,000 last month for crime cameras and cloud storage fees for the footage they capture.

During a regularly scheduled meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen last week, Armstrong said he planned to expend $98,875 of the grant this year to purchase 63 different cameras from Project NOLA, a New Orleans based non-profit organization that provides cameras at reduced prices.

The cameras purchased would be a combination of 15 fixed-lens cameras and 48 pan-tilt-zoom cameras, some of which would be equipped with license plate readers and with gunshot detection capabilities, Armstrong said.

Approximately 30% of the cameras would be placed in parts of the city with the highest crime rates including Maryland Avenue, Cambridge Heights, Holiday Apartments, West Stiers Lane and Union Street, Armstrong said.

“I hope those persons who live in the areas that I mentioned would come forth and identify themselves with us,” Armstrong said last week’s meeting.

“We have to have their input and permission. They would have to have WiFi and a power source in order for us to utilize the cameras in those areas. I have gotten calls from a few citizens in those areas, but it has been very few.”

Armstrong said the grant would also cover up to two years of cloud storage at a rate of $20 per month per camera.

“(The grant) was something that we started working on towards the end of 2019 and we were just notified that we’d be receiving the grant a few weeks ago,” Armstrong said. “… We anticipate identifying areas to start installation in the coming weeks.”

Armstrong said a downtown group agreed to pay monthly cloud storage fees to have cameras placed on their properties if the city would front the cost of the cameras and installation.

Armstrong said for those who can afford to pay for the cameras or storage fees, the money that the city doesn’t expend could be used for more cameras.

Armstrong said people who are interested in participating in Project NOLA should contact the Natchez Police Department at 601-445-5565 and leave their name, address and phone number so that a representative can meet with them at their property and possibly identify where the camera could be placed.