Community alert: There is no crime in the French Quarter. Tommy Green predicts this could happen if residents install security cameras.
"Once the bad guys know that there is a 24-hour witness to their deeds who cannot be frightened away, crime will go down," said Green, a retired NOPD sergeant.
"It works," said Green, who thinks locals can drastically curb robberies and assaults by making a relatively small investment in a camera.
This is not part of the city's troubled crime camera program, which made front page news because the Nagin administration did not deliver on its promise to have 200 working cameras at the end of 2007 and withheld public documents. Thanks to Councilwoman Stacy Head, who led the inquiry calling the city's contract with LSI Research of Huntsville, Ala., "fishy."
The 8th District has only 16 cameras, which is why QuarterSafe, a neighborhood group, wants a camera on every block and security put in local hands.
"This is the greatest neighborhood in America, and yet it's gotten to the point where many of us are afraid to walk to our cars alone," said local writer Josh Clark. "This is unacceptable."
Believing it is time for us to take control of our streets, Clark and friends spent months trying to figure out the most efficient solution to fight crime.
"We talked to private security firms, the Guardian Angels, citizen patrol groups, but we found that nothing is as safe, effective and inexpensive as cameras," Clark said.
The lack of witnesses allows criminals to terrorize our neighborhood, but an eye-level video camera is an unimpeachable and fearless eyewitness, Clark said. A good video snapshot will stop a "one-man crime wave," he said.
Detective Mike Carambat, in charge of camera security for the city, said anytime he's had a video, the accused pleads guilty.
"The objective of the 'cheap video' project is that since nearly everyone has a PC, for $10 everyone can have a 24-hour eyewitness with photographic memory," Carambat said.
For citizens like myself, who have no wish to live in a police state with Big Brother watching every move, Clark reassures us that this is not Orwell's "1984." This only means that if a crime occurs, (God forbid you should be the victim) the police may ask for permission for specific footage to apprehend the criminal before he can strike again, he said.
Mayor Ray Nagin promises to have 200 cameras operating in the city before August. We'll see. Meanwhile, QuarterSafe says there is no excuse for the level of crime in the Quarter when it can be easily monitored. Their goal is to build a network of security cameras to catch and deter criminals in the Quarter.
It's as easy as the following "1, 2, 3," Clark said.
1 -- Order at least one tiny camera. You can find one on Ebay for $10 that is so small it fits in your palm by searching for a "480K 6-LED Night Vision USB WebCam."
2 -- Install the camera. It does not need power and runs off your PC. Download monitoring software free from www.supervisioncam.com. You can run up to four cameras at a time. If you have problems, contact Detective Carambat at (504) 400-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org He will come to your home and help you.
3 -- Send an e-mail to QuarterSafe@gmail.com and 8thDistrict@cityofno.com with the subject "Camera" and your name (first or nickname is just fine), phone number and exact address of the camera. Already have a camera? Let the 8th District know.
That's it. And remember, turn on outdoor streetlights for nighttime security.