Jackson, Miss., Earmarks Homeland Security Money for Surveillance, Robot

JACKSON, Miss. -- City officials are preparing to unveil a new homeland security monitoring system that includes 20 cameras for high-crime areas, government buildings and illegal garbage dumping spots.

The City Council last week approved a $41,000 bid to buy the cameras.

The equipment was purchased using money from a $400,000 federal grant, City Council President Leslie McLemore said. The city used $202,000 from the grant to purchase a robot that will be used in situations too dangerous for a human.

The robot is expected to arrive in the next 30 days.

"In light of 9-11, it's profoundly important for municipal government and any aspect of government to be very aware of homeland security," McLemore said.

Jackson police and the fire departments will have access to the monitoring system.

"The idea is to put cameras in strategic locations in the city," said Fire Chief Raymond McNulty. "Put TV cameras where people congregate."

Dan Gaillet, the city's engineering manager, said installing homeland security equipment is cost-effective.

"What might have taken two or three security guards can be done with a camera," he said.