Fresno eyes program to pair retailer cameras with police to stop thefts

Fresno is embracing a public-private program first implemented in Detroit to curb property crimes.

Two Fresno City Council members are proposing a new pilot program to help local retail businesses protect against organized retail theft and other property crimes.

Council members Luis Chavez and Mike Karbassi announced the proposal Tuesday, which is called Project Spotlight.


The big picture: If approved by the council in the upcoming budget, Project Spotlight will be a pilot program to install real-time camera connections at local retail businesses.

  • The camera feeds would be readily available at the Fresno Police Department’s Real Time Crime Center. 
  • Chavez and Karbassi are proposing a $100,000 budget amendment to fund the pilot program. The appropriation would fund the installation of cameras at chosen retail sites, technical assistance in connecting cameras to the police department and a Project Spotlight beacon for businesses to display. 

The backstory: Project Spotlight is based on Project Green Light in Detroit, which launched in 2016 and began with the placement of cameras and a trademark green beacon on eight gas stations. 

  • Detroit now has over 550 businesses participating in the program. 
  • Chavez got a firsthand look at Project Green Light when he visited Detroit earlier this year as part of an exchange of best practices between Fresno and Detroit. 
  • A study from the U.S. Department of Justice found that the number of reported property crimes at participating businesses decreased by 27 percent after one year compared to other businesses. 

What they’re saying: “Keeping a watchful eye on our community with Project Spotlight is the first step to preventing property crimes, which ensures our officers patrolling the city are focusing on the highest-priority neighborhoods to keep residents safe,” Chavez said. 

  • Karbassi said, “For too long, local businesses in Fresno have become victims to repeat organized theft and other property crimes. Project Spotlight has a demonstrated record of success in tackling property crimes.”
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