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Operation Safe Zone to help Gary combat crime with technology

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Gary Mayor Jerome Prince announces the launch of Operation Safe Zone at U.S. Steel Yard on June 16.

The city of Gary officially launched its Operation Safe Zone program at the U.S. Steel Yard Thursday. Mayor Jerome Prince said it lets businesses share their security camera feeds directly with Gary Police, allowing officers to monitor activity in real time.

"Having technology that enhances their ability to monitor hot spots or particular areas in the community puts us that much further ahead of the folks who would not be so responsible and certainly not considerate of our public safety efforts," Prince said.

Would-be criminals will be able to recognize participating businesses by the blue light outside their buildings. Police Corporal Larry McKinley said feeds will be monitored off-site, but individual officers will also be able to log in. Going forward, the city will also let residents register their doorbell cameras, so police know who to contact, if they need video from a particular area.

Five businesses have signed up so far. City council member and public safety committee chair Ronald Brewer encouraged others to join. "Crime in our city is no longer accepted. It never has been. But we're fighting back, and we're fighting back even harder. And we're going to use technology and every means that we can to make sure that we make sure our citizens our safe and the ones that come inside our city," Brewer said.

Mayor Prince said Operation Safe Zone is currently a pilot program, and while there will be a cost to the city and participants, he expects it will be minimal.