Project NOLA reaches milestone: 1,000 cameras now connected - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Project NOLA reaches milestone: 1,000 cameras now connected across N.O.

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Inside Project NOLA's video room, the group is able to monitor more areas of the city than ever before.

Monday, the non-profit hit a milestone. They now have surveillance cameras in 1,000 locations across New Orleans.

"It means there are more cameras to catch criminals, more cameras to help reduce the crime rate in the City of New Orleans," said Bryan Lagarde, the group's founder.

Lagarde says video feeds running through his office play frequent roles in criminal investigations.

Monday alone, he said his members' cameras captured possible evidence of four separate crimes.

Lagarde believes the group's effort is helping the NOPD.

"A lot of it has to do with the police attrition rate. The more police officers they lose, the more important it is for us to increase efficiency," he said.

Cameras across the city -- some connected to Project NOLA, some private -- have been put to the test recently.

That's why a group of French Quarter businesses is considering paying for a new crime camera network along Bourbon Street, among other ideas to help beef up security.

"Every day, practically, it seems that there's a video coming from the French Quarter that shows somebody perpetrating a crime," said Chris Young, an attorney who represents the French Quarter Business League.

Cameras captured the chaotic moments when gunfire erupted on Bourbon Street last month; violence that claimed the life of one woman and injured nine others.

According to Project NOLA, footage from its surveillance network helped lead to the first arrest in the case.

"We were very quickly able to go through the video footage, find what we needed to see. We found some irregularities, brought it to the attention of detectives," Lagarde said.

In Mid-City, dozens of business owners have joined the Project NOLA network. Josef Wright, President of the Greater Mid-City Business Association, says cameras in that section of the city are deterring crime.

"The cameras are just critical, because the NOPD can't be everywhere, but the cameras can," Wright said. "There have been some people who have put up cameras and gotten rid of some long-term drug dealers and other criminals that have been there for ten years."

Project NOLA says sign ups keep rolling in. New members will now have to chip in some cash to help the group keep up with demand.

When the non-profit first launched, Lagarde said expected to have enough cash to support operational costs for cameras in 1,000 locations. Lagarde says people who sign up through the end of this week will still be covered, but new members after that point will have to help with the costs.

"We're going to have to charge a very small monthly maintenance fee to go ahead and get more server licenses, more bandwidth, more staff members, to go ahead and to manage the system. We don't know what that price tag is going to be," he said.

Meanwhile, city leaders continue encouraging camera owners to register with the SafeCam NOLA program. Those who sign up are entered into a database, allowing NOPD officers to easily locate cameras in the vicinity of a crime.

To register, go to www.SafeCamNOLA.com.

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