LEAKESVILLE, Miss. (WKRG) — Security cameras are newly installed throughout Leakesville in hopes to deter and solve crime across the town.
The town will pay Mississippi Power about $2,000 per month to lease the equipment. Town Clerk Rex Garretson believes they will be worth every penny when more people are held accountable for committing crimes.
“We don’t sit there and just watch [the camera] all day long. It’s only if somebody has a problem.
If [a deputy] gets a report that somebody just broke into the pawn shop, he can pull the camera, see the traffic that was going through the area at the time,” said Garretson. “And that’ll help them identify who suspects are.”
When the town’s police force disbanded, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office took over law enforcement for the area. While there’s always a deputy patrolling the town limits, Garretson said some residents have become concerned without seeing a dedicated police force around town.
Deputies also cannot be in every part of town at once, Garretson said, so at public parks that have a curfew, the cameras can serve as a tool for patrolling and investigation.
“The cameras are always there. So if we set up an algorithm that says if you detect any motion between 11 [p.m.] and 6 [a.m.], it will immediately send a notification to the officer on duty,” said Garretson.
Privacy was a key factor when choosing where to install the cameras. They are mostly pointed at intersections or public property and cannot be turned to face any private home.
Still, recordings can be used for investigators to go back and look for any suspicious vehicles on a road during a specific time period if a person believes a crime was committed at their home.
Garretson, the deputy on duty for the Leakesville ward and Mayor David West are currently the only staff with login access to the live and recorded video feeds.
Deputies cannot write tickets from the cameras for traffic violations like speeding or running a stop sign, according to state law.
“We don’t have the population to run any type of radar. We can’t even run the signs that tell you you’re going too fast- this is your current speed- because that’s radar,” said Garretson.
Vandalism has been a recent concern in the area. Town staff have had to repair damage at Bear Creek Park numerous times this year from a broken window in the concession stand, a damaged toilet in the restrooms and an abundance of litter on the playground.
The cameras could already come into use after landscaping materials for the park’s soccer fields came up stolen right after they were installed.
“We can’t spend your tax dollars wisely if we’re having to clean up vandalism. So we can’t work on your streets because we’re spending money on other things. We’re trying to deal with the problems with the most economic sense,” said Garretson. “We have to find a way to make it usable for people that actually want to be good custodians of the parks and use it for their kids.”
Two license plate readers are also scheduled to be installed on the Chickasawhay River bridge on Hwy 63 and the Y-intersection at Hwy 57/Hwy 63.
That could aid law enforcement across the state. It alerts police when a tag entered into the National Crime Information Center is flagged on the camera, such as when someone has a warrant for their arrest or is a suspect in an AMBER Alert.
The state prison in Leakesville has historically dealt with issues of people throwing contraband over the fence, according to Garretson. Some people responsible, most from out of town, could be flagged on the license plate readers.