Councilwoman makes public plea to turn on surveillance cameras to help fight crime

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Officials are saying it's time to make use of something many people already have, cameras and surveillance systems, to help fight crime in Baton Rouge.

"We've changed the way we now walk out of our houses. We've changed the way we allow our kids to go out to play. We've changed the way we go to the store," said East Baton Rouge Parish Councilwoman Tara Wicker.

It's something Wicker knows about personally. Her district, District 10, has actually seen a good portion of the crime this year in Baton Rouge. So far this year, there have been 73 homicides just within the Baton Rouge city limits, on par to set a record. It's why Wicker is reaching out to the public with a plea.

"The businesses that have cameras, the community residents that have cameras, make sure those cameras are on, that they're operating," said Wicker.

Separate from the public, Wicker is also reaching out to Senator Bill Cassidy and Congressman Garret Graves for federal help. Wicker says Graves has already spoken to the federal Department of Justice, saying there are several gr ants the Baton Rouge Police Department can apply for to get cameras put up around the city.

In 2006, the city did receive about 150 cameras with a gunshot detection system. Then in 2012, the wireless network, which was managed by the city,  stopped working, so a majority of the cameras and equipment were taken down. Then in 2016, a new camera system was installed, but to date, of the nearly 150 cameras, only about 70 are working and they are being moved around the city as needed.

But those cameras are not enough.

"The more eyes on the streets we have, the better chance we have of being able to catch these criminals," said Wicker.

We're also told the city is looking into a system like the one New Orleans already has, called Project NOLA. It's a program where homes, businesses, and private surveillance systems are linked with the police. This would mean BRPD would have access to hundreds more real-time cameras.

"You never know what your camera may catch down the street or a car that passes by that just committed a crime on the other side that happens to come down your street," said Wicker.

BRPD plans to meet with their gr ant writers to start looking into what federal gr ants they can seek to make these cameras a reality.

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