Kim Clowes | Michigan Korean Weekly
Project Green Light is a partnership between local businesses, the City of Detroit and community groups. With the first phase of the pilot program coming to an end on February 29th, Detroit Police Chief James Craig is feeling optimistic about the initiative.
“The idea of Greenlight started two years ago and it’s certainly at a whole different level now,” he said. “Initially, I heard a lot of concerns from people in the neighborhoods who felt left out of some of the initiatives citywide.”
Following implementation of the Quicken Loans-sponsored Blue Light public safety surveillance system installed in Detroit’s downtown and midtown neighbourhoods, Craig said he was intrigued by Homeland Security’s recognition of the program as a “best-practice” initiative.
“I started thinking about it. What does the blue light represent? Safe havens. A place that people can go if they need assistance. A location of safety. I thought that if we could identify some gas stations that were clean, that were safe, that were welcoming locations for safety, then why not elicit support and work closely with those businesses in the neighborhoods.”
Under the program, Craig said, “private business owners who have said that they want to participate make the financial investment of between $5,000 and $6,000. They connect their high-definition cameras into our real-time crime center.” If there is a robbery, a business participating in the program calls 911. The police monitoring center checks video at the location, and is then able to send descriptions of the suspects out in real time to responding police units.
Looking to the future, Craig said he sees opportunities to expand the program.
“As we evolve, as we tap into other video cameras across the city, there’s something I’m calling virtual patrol,” he said. “Let’s say there are criminal activities occurring on a major thoroughfare where we know there are cameras. We know that there have been a rash of robberies (between) let’s say, 7 and 10 on Thursdays and Fridays. Virtual patrol is nothing more than going to that location, scanning the area and looking for criminal activity based on descriptions which we’ve gotten. If during this virtual patrol our staff is monitoring some cameras at the location and they see some activity, or someone matching a description, they can then notify uniformed officers to go there and initiate an investigative stop for what they’ve seen.”
Craig said he and Mayor Mike Duggan each see the benefits of technology to improve response times to crime.
“As the mayor and I started to talk about some of the initiatives we had going, one of the things that he knew I was passionate about was a real-time crime center, Craig said. “That’s when the birth of the true private-public partnership began.”
Among the few hundred Asian-owned businesses in Detroit, there is interest in the Green Light model.
Jung Joon Lim, who runs a beauty supply store on Fenkell Ave, welcomes the project. “I am expanding my store and am ready to try the new monitoring system,” he said. “The cost seems reasonable and the good thing is that the police are monitoring my store.”
Chris Chae, the owner of Kimbrough Cleaners on Van Dyke, also supports the initiative. “More than 100 Korean store owners in Detroit will like the Green Light Project,” he said. Without crime control, Detroit cannot be attractive to business owners. I appreciate to see that the police are doing something positive to protect our businesses and customers.”