Have you ever wondered what those flashing green lights on top of business signs are?
They are there to show which businesses are part of Project Green Light.
According to the Project Green Light website, it “is the first public-private-community partnership of its kind, blending a mix of real-time crime-fighting and community policing aimed at improving neighborhood safety, promoting the revitalization and growth of local businesses and strengthening DPD’s efforts to deter, identify, and solve crime.”
The Detroit Police Department monitors the surveillance of the 293 partnering businesses in real-time. The businesses also get to view their surveillance footage through a phone application.
Lou Saffou, who runs Star of Woodward, a liquor store near campus, said he supports Project Green Light because it promotes safety.
“We have a lot of kids that come in from [Wayne State],” said Saffou. “Being a business owner I want the best for my customers.”
Saffou pulls out his phone, showing the six surveillance videos displaying different areas throughout his store and parking lot in real-time. The images are clear and customers are easily identifiable.
“In the long run, will it be worth it?” said Saffou. “I hope so.”
University Foods Store Director Norman Yaldoo – a partnering business in Project Green Light – said being involved in the project deters crime and brings more comfort to his customers.
“In my opinion, every commercial business should have it,” said Yaldoo.
But, because the Detroit Police Department gives first priority to the businesses involved in Project Green Light, the businesses not a part of the project are often left to wait with longer response times.
The price tag to get involved in Project Green Light ranges from $4,000 to $6,000 and a 3-year contract. The cost is what makes many business owners hesitant to join.
“I wish it was free,” said Saffou. “But, it’s not about money, it’s about safety.”
He added that he believes it was the best money he ever spent, and he wishes he had gotten involved sooner.
WSU students had different perspectives about the project.
Alex Moran, a sophomore biology student said, “It’s not fair (partnering businesses) get priority because some businesses might not be able to afford it.”
Cameron Burgess, a freshman political science major, said the Detroit Police Department shouldn’t be involved in this project at all.
“Government favoritism is not a good thing,” said Burgess.
However, he added that he believes the initiative “protects high priority targets from theft.”
Belacqua Behnke, a sociology masters student said, “Giving the impression of different tiers of police response is bad.”
Sarah McCormick, a third year dance and psychology major, said, “I feels safer knowing I’m on camera.”
To learn more about Project Green Light, visit their website at http://www.greenlightdetroit.org.
An earlier version of this story included Detroit business owner, Rachel Lutz, who has since been removed.