OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – Opelika police, retailers, and Liveview asset protection company are wrapping up a first-of-its-kind study designed to see if a concentration of parking lot cameras can better protect people and property.

“We were wanting to see if there was a mass deployment, meaning if a lot of stores put this technology in their parking lots, would that potentially drive down crime? Would people take notice and not come here to commit shoplifting, thefts, and car burglaries,” said Chief Healey.

Liveview Technology is a loss prevention, and asset protection company working with our nation’s largest retailers. The company chose Opelika as one of two American cities to set up dozens of parking lot cameras on the retailer’s private property, then share video with police when needed.  

In November, the solar-powered towers were placed all over Tiger Town, and other retail locations, just in time for the 2022 holiday shopping season. The group collected crime data and compared it to previous years. Opelika’s Police Chief says the network of 20 parking lot cameras performed even better than expected.

“Especially through Christmas time through Black Friday until the Christmas holidays it drove down our thefts by 39%. We are excited to see what the final numbers are but we are fairly confident it’s worked,” said Healey.

The system allows advanced camera surveillance systems inside stores to spread their eyes in the skies to watch over people and vehicles in parking lots. 

“When there’s a big camera, they are flashing with the blue light on it in Opelika Police Department on it and I’ve talked to so many people there like we wanna park next to that,” said Healey.

The partnership is a perfect example of the ‘Together Opelika’ philosophy in action.

“The collaboration, the coming together of those entities to help fight crime that to me was the biggest thing. It drove a lot of conversations between us and these retail stores. It form some relationships that weren’t there before and it’s strength and relationships that we did have,” said Chief Healey.

The partnership helped forged relationships with various businesses like Advanced Auto, who had a tower cam in their parking. The auto part decided to share gift cards with Opelika police officers to give to citizens pulled over with automobile issues.

“So if we pulled over somebody for a broken tail light or a headlight instead of our officers giving them a ticket, we would give them a gift card from advanced auto and they could go get their tail light fixed. Problem solved,” said Healey. 

The project is set to wrap up at the end of April when it will be up to local businesses to decide if they want to keep the tower cameras in their parking lots. Chief Healey says the police department was so impressed they are thinking of purchasing a few towers for the department to use on city property and during community events.

“Not only did the cameras act as deterrents but they also helped us solve crimes,” said Chief Healey.

Defectives used parking lot footage shared with them by retailers to work on other investigations. The video provided vehicle descriptions, tag numbers, and directions of travel.

“If everybody contributes a small amount of capital investment we can pool our resources together to make the whole city safer.  That’s everybody buying in saying hey, let’s take charge of safety in our city. That’s the whole concept of what together Opelika is,” said Healey. 

The partnership with Liveview Technology was such a success Chief Healey says there’s an ongoing discussion of doing an even bigger second project. WRBL will share the details when we can.