MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Commission recently approved a plan to buy 325 new SkyCop cameras for $1.6 million.
That figure is more than twice what Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris asked for in his budget proposal.
Earlier this year, Harris submitted a request for $650,000 to buy an additional 130 SkyCop cameras throughout Shelby County. Under Harris’ proposal each commissioner’s district would receive 10 SkyCop cameras.
In the end, however, commissioners approved spending a much larger amount. Each commissioner’s district will now get 25 cameras.
Shelby County Commissioner Edmund Ford, Jr. said he supported the extra spending to help neighborhoods with limited resources.
"SkyCop cameras have been one of the needs," Ford said. “We passed a balanced budget that had more items than the mayor’s proposed budget and we did not raise taxes, but we did add more services.”
Ford said it will be up to citizens to decide where those cameras should go.
"They know their neighborhood probably better than anyone because they live in their neighborhood and I want them to articulate where these cameras should go because they know where the elements of crime are," said Ford.
There are already more than 2,000 Sky Cop cameras in Memphis. The Cooper-Young Business Association recently announced plans to buy and install seven SkyCop cameras.
The association said it's a result of violent assaults that have taken place in the business district in the last few months.
Cooper-Young business owner Jay Etkin said he understands why cameras may be needed.
"At this point it's a reality, a new reality that we just have to live with," said Etkin. "In this day and age, we're sadly living in a world where people are taking advantage of people and sometimes very late at night."
As for the cameras approved by the Shelby County Commission, it's unclear when they'll be installed.
Harris’ office referred WMC to the county commission for more details.
Ford said he hopes his colleagues will meet with citizens soon to discuss which neighborhoods will get the SkyCop cameras.
“The sooner commissioners start talking to their respective communities, the sooner we can start implementing and executing the SkyCop cameras in our respective neighborhoods.”