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Security cameras deemed success by OPD

 

Two months and $37,000 later, Oxford Police Department’s security cameras on the Square are still filming in an effort to decrease crime.

After working on the idea of adding 10 extra video surveillance cameras on the Oxford Square since April, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved the purchase July 5, and the cameras were installed on Aug. 15 by the Madison-based company ADGIX. 

“With the increased late-night activity, we have seen an increase in violence,” Mayor George “Pat” Patterson said. “We should have had these cameras in place 10 years ago.”

With a record increase in student population at the University of Mississippi, there has also been an increase of students on the Square late at night.

Patterson said the cameras have already served their purpose and have captured other unnamed occurrences that have concerned him and other Oxford city officials.

Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin said the cameras are being used to prevent crime, but they are also being used as a tool to catch someone who has committed a crime.

“There have been instances of assaults, in which the victims received severe injuries and no one would come forward as witnesses,” he said. “The cameras can provide valuable evidence in solving these types of instances.”

One of the main reasons for the additional cameras on the Square is to be able capture a crime on tape, as well as to prevent students and locals from getting into violent situations.

“We kind of hope that it’s a preventative thing, so that people would start to think twice about what they are doing, because right now they obviously are not,” Patterson said.

Patterson said he has heard mixed responses to the cameras’ installations, but he said he believes it is something that needed to be done years ago.

“I’ve heard some students complain that it is an invasion of their privacy, and my response is, ‘Behave yourself and there isn’t an issue,’” he said.

Andrew Abrams, a real estate senior from Atlanta, said he feels comfortable with the installation of the cameras.

“I don’t see anything wrong with putting up some cameras on the Square,” Abrams said. “If anything, they are probably making the Square a safer place for students and Oxford locals.”

Abrams said he believes the cameras will eventually prevent people from becoming violent on the Square once they are caught on tape a few times.

Oxford has continually increased its implementation of security, from more police officers on the Square to officers on horseback and now to security cameras.

Patterson said the increase of security has only been to protect students and citizens of the Oxford community, and he said the city officials will do whatever they need to keep violence from the Square.

While the cameras record happenings on the Square, they also stream live footage to a dispatch officer at Oxford Police Department. This gives OPD the ability to recognize a crime early so they will be able to dispatch officers to the exact location of the offense. OPD assigns an officer to be on duty at the police station who watches the cameras and informs the officers on the Square as to where an incident might be forming.

Martin believes the cameras, along with officers on horseback and officers on foot, are all playing a major role in making the Square a safer place to be at night.

“Any time you have an area with thousands of people in it, there is always the possibility of trouble,” he said. “The police department is tasked with using any resource it can (to) provide a safe environment for its citizens.”