SkyCops could be bought by neighborhoods

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

SkyCop Vice President of Sales Ken Shackleford attended the Blytheville Police and Fire Committee meeting on Monday to discuss with some local community leaders about the possibility of neighborhoods purchasing their own SkyCop units throughout the city of Blytheville.

Shackleford explained that in Memphis the idea of neighborhoods collecting funds and purchasing their own units has really taken off and Chief of Police Ross Thompson wanted to present that idea to Blytheville.

Committee chairman John Musgraves stated that he wanted to allow some of the citizens within the community to talk about their concerns and questions about placing the units within neighborhoods.

The units that would be considered for neighborhood purchase would likely be overt pole mounted units, meaning they would attach to street lights and electrical poles and would be fitted with flashing blue lights at all times. The standard unit has two cameras on it and costs between $5,000 to $6,000. The cameras would be purchased by neighborhood fundraising and would be utilized and controlled by the Blytheville Police Department

The cost of the units was brought into question, as well as their general lifespan before being considered obsolete. Shackleford stated that the cameras are expensive, however, all materials used for making the cameras is industrial grade to make them survive the harshness of the elements and keep as long of a lifespan as possible. He stated that technology usually has around a five-year lifespan before becoming outdated to a newer model; however, these units could likely be used for longer than five years.

If the units were purchased, the neighborhood would have input as to where the camera was placed. The BPD would be the ones utilizing the camera and would also be the owners of the unit once it was purchased.

Another subject brought up by the citizens was insurance coverage over SkyCop units. Thompson stated that the mobile unit the city currently owns is covered under insurance. He did not know the specifics of covering the cameras; however, he did say that they would definitely look into it if the cameras were purchased. Thompson spoke about some of the benefits of neighborhoods considering this method for safety. While he did state that $5,500 seems like a lot of money, if it is raised between a neighborhood, it is considerably cheaper than the alternative of having a police officer patrol the area 24 hours a day and the SkyCop records what it sees. With the many questions about the units coming from the public and communities in Memphis taking actions like raising funds for units, the committee simply wanted to have a meeting with a representative from SkyCop to answer some questions about how the process would work.

gwilliams@blythevillecourier.com