Recently acquired grant funding will give Starkville Police Department an unblinking watchman at one of Starkville’s busiest intersections.
SPD Chief Frank Nichols confirmed earlier this month the department would install a camera at the intersection of University Drive and Maxwell Street, a key intersection in the Cotton District.
The city utilizes similar cameras at two downtown intersections — Main and Lafayette streets and the Main-Douglass L. Connor streets juncture. A recent $98,000 grant covered the costs associated with the camera, a new vehicle and Segway personal transportation devices.
Cameras can aid potential investigations of any crimes its lenses capture, from drunk drivers entering their cars to simple assaults.
The Cotton District is home to a number of restaurants that also function as bars. The University Drive-Maxwell Street intersection is ground zero to Starkville’s largest public events, including Bulldog Bash and the Cotton District Arts Festival.
“Mainly what I want to do is put cameras in places where there’s high foot traffic. I want to put on in the Cotton District (because of the) presence of alcohol establishments,” Nichols said earlier this month. “I can remember years ago when I was a sergeant, I remember a pedestrian was killed — a young lady had her legs knocked off — right there where we want to put those cameras. (Installation) is for security reasons, for the safety of the students.”
Precinct offer under review
Nichols took over as Starkville’s top cop almost a year ago. In his interview with the board, the then-captain promised to increase SPD’s relationship with the community, establish precinct substations and fight for pay raises and additional officers.
Since February 2013, SPD has opened two substations and is studying a possible location for its third.
Nichols previously confirmed the department received an offer to take over a unit around the Camelot Apartments area. SPD is researching the need and possible costs, he said earlier this month, but has yet to finalize any plans for the location.
SPD formally opened its first substation, located at 151 Alfred Perkins St., almost a year to the day. The space, which also serves as a home to the department’s Community Oriented Policing division, gives residents a place to file criminal reports near their own neighborhoods, negating a trip to SPD’s headquarters on Lampkin Street.
A second location — a rent-free facility at Louisville Apartments — was approved in April.
“Public reception (toward the substations) has been great,” he said.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch