Detroit, Comcast partner to expand Project Green Light

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — City officials on Thursday announced a partnership that’s making the cost of technology for one of Detroit’s newest crime-fighting tools more affordable to the city businesses that need it.

City officials have joined with Comcast Business to help expand the city’s Project Green Light program with reduced upfront costs.

Green Light launched in neighborhood gas stations to help deter and solve crimes. Under the program, participating businesses have invested between $4,000 to $6,000 apiece to equip their stations with high-definition interior and exterior video cameras, enhanced lighting systems, a highly visible green light and signs. The partnership links the live video feed from each of the stores to the Detroit Police Department’s Real Time Crime Center.

So far, 43 businesses have come online. But Mayor Mike Duggan said continued growth of the program has been hindered for some by the costs.

Comcast has now stepped up to offer a program that allows eligible businesses to join for $1,000, with a cost of $140 per month for digital storage and a lease of camera equipment.

The high-definition cameras can capture clear pictures of individuals, clothing, vehicles and license plates that will be relayed to area units, officials said.

Duggan on Thursday stressed the need to expand the technology, rattling off crime reports from recent days including a carjacking late Wednesday at a gas station on the east side, a Tuesday shooting in a pharmacy parking lot and two recent shootings in parking lots of two east side liquor stores.

“We know that many of these incidents can be prevented with the Green Light project. But the problem has been, we don’t have nearly enough stations signed up,” Duggan said during a news conference outside a participating Valero gas station on Telegraph in northwest Detroit.

“As far as I’m concerned, just about every operating business in the city should be willing to spend $140 a month to keep their customers safe coming and going. This is the next generation of violence reduction.”

Duggan on Thursday said 50 additional businesses have already expressed interest in taking part in the Comcast offering.

Tim Collins, senior vice president of Comcast in Michigan, said the company has a vested interest in supporting the city’s resurgence and the safety of its residents.

“We have a vested interest in the city’s success,” said Collins, adding the company will install and support the service for its customers.

Police Chief James Craig said there’s been a 50 percent reduction in violent crime at Green Light’s participating stations, which include restaurants, liquor stores, grocery stores and pharmacies.

“I’m looking forward to the next evolution of this,” Craig said. “This is about change. We’re embracing change.”

In 2014, the City Council passed a surveillance camera ordinance that encouraged gas stations to install security cameras inside and outside.

Duggan on Thursday said the city has a goal to get the first 100 businesses up-and-running by the end of the year. The council also plans to then revisit and strengthen the ordinance to make surveillance equipment mandatory.

Moe Rustam owns 14 stations in Detroit and has made three of them part of the Green Light program, including the Valero station.

“I’ve never seen the city coming up like it is right now,” he said. “Since we became a Green Light, our crime has been down like crazy. My employees are safe, my customers are safe. $140 is not a lot.”