Detroit had a problem. Late at night, gas stations were the only businesses with open doors in many neighborhoods—and they were magnets for crime. In the first six months of 2015, about a quarter of violent crimes reported between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. happened within 500 feet of a gas station, according to the Detroit Police Department.
So it launched Project Green Light, offering round-the-clock video monitoring to city businesses, which pay all related expenses.
“We call what we do virtual patrol,” said Sergeant Michael Woody, the Detroit Police Department’s public information officer. So called real-time crime centers have been adopted by police departments across the country, but Detroit’s stands out because of the buy-in from local merchants. Each business opts into the additional surveillance with an investment of $5-6,000 for stationary high-definition cameras, lighting, software, technology and an ever-present green light that can be seen from some distance away.
Mike’s Fresh Market is among the local businesses that have joined Project Green Light. Its owner, Jamal Abro, decided to enroll one of his two stores after experiencing “some trouble in the parking lot,” like cars being broken into. Though he has security guards, he felt that the extra measures were necessary to ensure the safety of his customers. Abro will have about seven cameras installed around the perimeter along with signs that indicate that the grounds are being monitored. When the installation is complete he estimates the total cost will be between $8-9,000, “But it will be worth it to make my customers feel more safe and comfortable,” he said. He’s also confident that a positive side effect will be attracting more customers to his store thanks to the enhanced security. For Abro, there’s an improved efficacy and immediacy to Project Green Light that gives him a lot of peace of mind.