STARKVILLE – The Starkville Police Department is on the way to creating a safer and more efficient way to monitor crime in the city.
As of January 1, Police Chief Mark Ballard has said Starkville has witnessed 38 major crimes and the SPD solved 36 of them, largely thanks to surveillance cameras. While SPD has multiple cameras installed throughout the city, along with a new camera system, the department can gain access to even more footage and information.
Fusos, a platform where business and home owners can share images with police, will soon be rolled out across the city. Cameras can send video directly to agents, thus contributing to the agency’s ability to manage critical incidents.
Ballard said he believes this is the next step in solving crime in the city and creating a safer atmosphere for residents.
“We’re at a crossroads as a community, as a city, with our camera systems right now,” Ballard said. “… The city can’t just put a camera everywhere. It is a concept of combining private partnerships with business owners… to participate in public safety.
Fusus works by placing a “core” in an existing camera system. This kernel sends video footage to a virtual cloud where police are on the front lines, Fusus public safety adviser Richard Ring said during the board’s working session on Friday.
While this $ 65,000-per-year system has already been budgeted for in the city, the council of aldermen will still need to approve the funding at its regular council meeting on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, the Columbus Police Department partnered with Ring to grant police and firefighters access to video doorbell camera footage. Unlike the Columbus arrangement, Fusus can be used on any existing camera system. Camera owners can purchase basic “boxes” to install in their current camera systems for $ 200 to access up to four cameras or $ 600 for up to 25 cameras.
“(The private entities) can all have different systems, and we can take them to the police department, so when a call is made for a service, the police have a better situational awareness,” Ring said. “Instead of sending 10 agents to a call when it only takes two, they can do it with Fusus. “
The SPD will have a recorded map of all public and private cameras in the region. Ballard said SPD records clerk Lee Upchurch would be the main supervisor of CCTV, but detectives or investigators who need access to footage for criminal information will be granted permission.
While business and home owners would ultimately give the department permission to view their camera footage, agents can’t access those videos when they want – they must have a reason for doing so, like a lead on a crime suspect. Fusus has an “audit system” that records each time an officer accesses a particular camera, so business owners can ask the police to see the audit to make sure they are not monitored.
Camera owners can also allow SPD to only certain cameras and do not have to give them access to all cameras in the facility.
Ring said that owners of cameras installing Fusus have a “panic alert,” which will notify police that something suspicious or disturbing may be happening there.
“If you have a Fusus core at your location you can press that SOS button, and what happens is SOS connects with the police department and any officer logged in will immediately know someone is in distress. at your location, and it also automatically turns on the cameras, ”Ring said.
After visiting Jackson Police Department facility and seeing his Fusus system in the spring, Ballard said he knew he wanted to bring Fusus to the SPD. JPD had a 51% reduction in crime after installing Fusus, and he said he hopes to see Starkville’s crime decrease with the help of this software.
“We will analyze the videos for the leads and those leads are generated in lead software,” Ballard said. “… I think it’s a system that will make us work smarter, not harder.”