SkyCop cameras could soon watch the streets of Cooper-Young and not everyone is happy about that.
A Tuesday-morning statement from the Cooper-Young Business Association (CYBA) said the board bought seven cameras from SCIT Technologies, Inc. last month. Two of those cameras will read license plates. If installed, all video and license plate information captured would go directly to the Memphis Police Department’s (MPD) Real Time Crime Center (RTCC).
The statement, from CYBA executive director Tamara Walker, said “this action is a direct result of the active and ongoing violent assaults that have been taking place in our business district over the last several months.”
In May, several men were robbed and beaten in the Young Avenue Deli parking lot, according to WREG
. Two men left the bar and were heading to their car “when three vehicles pulled up. Men wearing bandannas and masks jumped out,” according to WREG, and one of the attacked men said the attackers had pistols and assault rifles. The men attacked and robbed another man before fleeing in their cars.
Last month, police told WREG
that a man kidnapped and robbed a woman and then robbed an Uber Eats driver.
“We believe that these cameras, in addition, to the armed security patrol that businesses are hiring, new lighting that is being installed, fencing around property, regular clean up and maintenance, as well as individual business surveillance will bring an immediate impact on this violent activity happening in the business areas in our district,” Walker said in a statement.
However, some Cooper-Young residents say the SkyCop camera project was done without any feedback from the community and are urging residents to contact the CYBA and Memphis City Council member Jamita Swearengen to comment.
“If these blue blinking lights are able to deter crime along the business corridor, where do you think crime will spread if those arteries are watched?” asked Patrick Durkin, a Cooper-Young resident and adminstrator of the Preserve Cooper-Young Facebook page. “Is it out of the question that a would-be criminal may slink into the neighborhood and target residential streets because those in front of the businesses are being surveilled? Is 24/7 government-recorded surveillance that may force criminals onto our residential streets the answer to summertime crime upticks?”
The CYBA said the cameras will be placed at ”highly-utilized intersections on Cooper Street, Young Avenue and Central Avenue.” Durkin said he was told the cameras would be placed close to East Parkway and Young, Blythe and Young, Cooper and Young, Walker and Cooper, Evelyn and Cooper, Central and Cooper, and Central and Cox.
The CYBA said “these cameras will be pointed at the street. The video will only be used by detectives at Memphis Police Department to solve crimes. The CYBA will not have access to this video. Video will have a 30-day, continuous record.” Walker said she expected the cameras to be up in 30 days.
“How does this look to visitors to our neighborhood?” Durkin asked on Facebook. “Do you feel more comfortable living your best life under MPD’s microscope or is it a signal that you have now entered a crime-ridden neighborhood where at any moment you may become a victim?”
Before the cameras can be installed, the funds from the CYBA to the MPD for them must be approved by the city council. The council is slated to meet again on Tuesday, July 16th.
“If you have comments regarding this, please contact the CYBA at firstname.lastname@example.org or (Cooper-Young’s) councilwoman Jamita Swearengen, Jamita.Swearengen@memphistn.gov,” Durkin wrote. ”Cooper-Young: historically hip and now and forever blinking blue.”