Cameras that can catch people driving through red lights, speeding or committing a crime could be coming to a Macon neighborhood near you.
Questions, such as how much it would cost to operate the camera systems, have to be answered before county officials decide if the they will be installed around town. The Macon-Bibb County Commission did, however, decide Tuesday to have companies bid on providing surveillance and red light cameras.
Surveillance cameras could be placed on street lights and utility poles in some high-crime areas and downtown where large crowds may gather for events.
And traffic light cameras could be installed at busy intersections and places where motorists are most likely to run red lights.
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Commissioner Joe Allen asked the county to look into the red light cameras while Commissioner Virgil Watkins has been a proponent of the surveillance system.
"If people know the cameras are out there a lot of people aren’t going to speed," Allen said Tuesday. "There's also people running red lights, people running stop signs. This is to deter, stop people, to make them slow down."
Although the surveillance cameras won't generate any revenue like red light cameras, they could still deter criminals or be used as key evidence when a crime is committed, Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said.
The feed could be accessed by the sheriff's office, which would determine the blocks and neighborhoods where the cameras are most needed.
The surveillance cameras could help promote an "atmosphere of safety in various parts of town," Davis said.
In 2016, crime was reduced by 23 percent near 250 Detroit businesses that participated in a surveillance camera system monitored by police officers, CBS Detroit reported.
"Red light and speeding cameras ... do what we want to do in catching violators and changing behavior," Davis added.
But the manpower it costs the county and courts to handle some of the red light and speeding citations needs to be taken into account, Solicitor General Rebecca Grist said.
Her office helps deal with the citations given to people caught on camera illegally driving past school buses. The local government won't receive revenue from the tickets until the equipment and a certain amount of operational costs are paid for, Grist said.
She said she supports finding out what companies offer in their contracts for red light and speeding detection systems.
"There are a lot of moving pieces," Grist said. "I know it sounds great, and we went into the stop-arm camera (deal) thinking OK, cool, good. It’s just not been this magical salve we thought it would be. Has it been a good educational tool? Absolutely."