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Detroit public housing to get surveillance program

November 18, 2018
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This photo taken April 19, 2018, shows a customer walking out of Southern Smokehouse on West McNichols Road in Detroit. The carry-out BBQ restaurant participates in the Detroit Police Green Light program. A surveillance program that’s raised concerns about privacy and efficiency will come to Detroit’s public housing program this year. The Detroit Free Press reports that Project Green Light’s cameras feed into the city’s Real Time Crime Center. The Detroit Housing Commission and police are working on an agreement to bring 26 cameras to two high-rise towers that have an "elderly and near-elderly community." The commission predicts that transitioning to Project Green Light will cost $66,000, which will be covered by federal funds. (Eric Seals /Detroit Free Press via AP)

DETROIT (AP) — A surveillance program that’s raised concerns about privacy and efficiency will come to Detroit’s public housing program this year.

Project Green Light’s cameras feed into the city’s Real Time Crime Center, The Detroit Free Press reported. The Detroit Housing Commission and police are working on an agreement to bring 26 cameras to Sheridan Place I and II, two high-rise towers that have an “elderly and near-elderly community.”

“The area has a high volume of both foot and car traffic daily, so any negative activity could impact more individuals,” said Helen Kippen, interim executive director of the commission. “As an elderly community, there should be a concern associated with the surrounding area, which is susceptible to unwanted activities.”

The commission predicts that transitioning to Project Green Light will cost $66,000, which will be covered by federal funds.

Those against the project are concerned about a lack of privacy and a lack of evidence that the cameras actually stop crime.

Michigan State University was recently granted funding to study crime rates of Green Light Project locations and non-project locations. Edmund McGarrell, the director of the Michigan Justice Statistics Center who is spearheading the study, said that while preliminary results of the Green Light Project are promising, researchers need more time to study its impact on crime.

Kevin Sheppard, who lives at one of the complexes that will be seeing the cameras, said the cameras should instead be added at a location that sees drugs instead of the senior citizen community.

“We’re senior citizens, we’re just trying to live a peaceful life,” the 61-year-old said. “So I don’t believe a Green Light should be here invading on my privacy.”

Sheppard said he’s also worried that family members will be less likely to visit him because the cameras stream directly to police.

“I think people would be uncomfortable,” he said. My family would be uncomfortable being spied on.”

Cheryl McNeece, 60, said she doesn’t do anything illegal so she doesn’t mind the cameras. She said she hopes the cameras will address the concern of strangers getting into the building.

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