Authorities in Springfield, Massachusetts are calling for greater security measures at all-night businesses. This follows the unsolved murder earlier this year of a man at a 24-hour gas station in the city.
The Springfield Police Department has identified close to 100 businesses that are open past midnight -- including 29 gas stations -- that could be required, under a proposed ordinance that is being drafted at City Hall, to improve exterior lighting and install high-definition cameras.
"We are urging businesses to take part in this program proactively, not only for the benefit of the city but for their own benefit," said Police Commissioner John Barbieri.
He said the feed from the surveillance cameras would be tied into the police department’s real-time crime analysis center.
"The goal is to be ahead of the curve and try to curb violence in and around late night establishments. To be able deter crime," explained Barbieri.
The Springfield City Council’s Public Safety Committee has asked the city solicitor to write an ordinance that would require late-night businesses to have a police department-approved security plan.
In addition to having video evidence of a crime that investigators could review later, Barbieri said the real-time feed will improve the department’s response when an incident is initially reported.
"The ( responding) officers can be directed in a manner that is atypical of a response," said Barbiari. "As opposed to a panicked individual on the phone trying to say what is going on, they will have an over watch telling them who the suspects are, who the innocent witnesses are, which way the suspects went."
City Councilor Tom Ashe, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said Springfield is looking to emulate the success of “Project Green Light” in Detroit where violent crime dropped dramatically at businesses that installed surveillance cameras to coordinate high-priority police response.
" We know there are spots around city that take up a lot of the police department's time through crime at these late night locations, so we want to attack that problem," said Ashe. " We think this program will be beneficial to the safety of our residents, but also benefit the businesses by reducing crime and raising their revenues."
At a City Hall news conference, City Councilor Ken Shea credited the family of the late Ivery Downie for highlighting security lapses at the 24-hour service station where the 36-year old Springfield man was shot and killed last May.
" I think a very positive outcome from that tragedy is going to occur," said Shea. " What we are going to do is create a necklace of safety cameras around the city to provide a safety net for our citizens when they are out in the evening using stores. I think it is going to make a big reduction in crime."
If the ordinance passes the plan is to begin a pilot program next year.