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The Square Security Cameras are now rolling

Addison Dent

 

The Oxford Police Department is watching you. 

Security cameras have been placed outside various bars and businesses on the Square at a reported cost of $50,000 and will be monitored by dispatchers at the OPD. 

These 10 new cameras have wide angle views, each with four views, essentially doing the work of 40 cameras. The cameras can zoom if needed, and footage can be reviewed to get a closer look at suspects if a crime takes place.

Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin said the debate on installing the cameras has been on going for years, but was not approved by the mayor and the Oxford Board of Aldermen until recently.

When the installation of the cameras was first mentioned, the issue of “Big Brother” was raised. However, recently there has been less negative talk about them, Martin said.

“In today’s society, wherever you go, most places have cameras,” Martin said. “Is it ‘Big Brother?’ So to speak, it probably is, but is it useful? Very much so. 

“Do you have any expectations of privacy? No, you don’t out in the public.”

Massey Bowie, a 21-year-old Oxford resident, said she does not think the public will take the security cameras on the Square seriously. 

“I think they will be spray painted over by next Thursday,” Bowie said. “It’s a joke. What’s next, RoboCop?”

The cameras were placed on the Square as a crime deterrent. They will aid in keeping Oxford businesses and citizens safe, along with the work that the police department currently does.  

It is not uncommon to have thousands of people frequent the bars on the Square nightly, Martin said, and police can only see so much at once.

“With that number of people and with alcohol involved, inevitably it results in a fight somewhere, and what we’ve had in the past is some pretty severe instances of people being assaulted outside of the bars,” Martin said.

In previous cases of fights on the Square, the person who was assaulted is rendered to the point of unconsciousness and has no recollection of who their attacker was. Usually, bystanders do not want to get involved and it is difficult to find witnesses; however, these new cameras provide an alternate method to solving the case, Martin said. 

“These cameras are good enough to where if it occurs in a location where we have cameras, we can quite possibly develop suspects that were involved in instances or even witnesses,” Martin said.

The main areas OPD is looking at right now are the north side of the Square toward the federal building, 11th Street toward the Library, up and down Van Buren by the Lyric, South Lamar and the downtown Square itself. The police department hopes to add more cameras in the future to cover the outlying areas of the Square, including parking lots.

Though some don’t believe the cameras will work, senior marketing communications major Dani Gartman has a positive outlook on them. 

“I think it’s a good idea because it should lessen crime, and it makes it easier for security or cops to monitor activity on the Square,” Gartman said.

The feeds from the camera are already up and running in the police department.

“When people know that a camera is on, most of the time, people tend to behave themselves,” Martin said.