A program designed to reduce crime and enhance public safety is gaining momentum in Starkville, thanks to a thriving partnership between the Starkville Police Department and the local business community.
Connect Starkville allows commercial property owners to voluntarily share their security camera feeds with the Starkville Police Department. Cameras are integrated with the department’s real-time intelligence center, where analysts monitoring live feeds can respond faster and more accurately to crimes in progress and other emergencies.
Currently, Starkville has more than 350 integrated cameras, and Chief Mark Ballard projects having 700 integrated into the city’s system by August — a number he says is comparable to much larger cities. Connect Starkville uses technology from Fusus, a U.S.-based security tech company that works with communities around the country.
“Business and civic leaders know that economic development and crime prevention go hand-in-hand, so by embracing this technology, we get extra eyes around the city providing info as it occurs,” said Ballard, who has been with the force some 20 years. “This not only helps us identify individuals in question much faster than traditional means, but also assists with timely case resolution.
Mayor Lynn Spruill said like most cities around the country, in addition to being a transitional college town, Starkville is no stranger to crime. She applauds the willingness of community members to step up and assist the department as it works to preserve life, protect property, promote individual responsibility and inspire improvement.
“The protection of our residents and visitors, whether long-term or short-term, is of the utmost importance,” said Spruill. “From providing our officers with vehicle and body cameras to upgrading the department’s fleet to enhancing our drone program, we’re committed to investing in a stronger, safer Starkville.”
These cutting-edge trends, as well as providing officers with more than triple the state-required training, are helping Starkville stay relevant in today’s law enforcement climate. They also uphold the department’s values of integrity, service above self and courage as it embraces character-based, 21st-century policing.
Further, because of dedication to the highest professional standards, it is one of five municipal police departments in Mississippi accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., a national credentialing authority through the joint efforts of law enforcement’s major executive associations.
“Trust and transparency are key when it comes to establishing and maintaining positive relationships with our residents,” said Ballard. “I’m proud of our men and women who take it upon themselves to uphold the highest levels of integrity, accountability and respect for those we protect and serve and tirelessly work to increase the safety and quality of life for all who live and work here.”
Through a steadfast commitment to policing excellence, the Starkville Police Department is a professional, dynamic and innovative organization known for recruiting, hiring, training and developing an exceptional workforce that reflects the values and diversity of the city it serves. It also works closely with other area agencies to keep some 24,000 residents and more than 22,000 Mississippi State University students, faculty and employees safe.
“We want everyone to be comfortable whether they’re heading to work, out for dinner with the family, returning home from a game or simply getting gas or groceries,” said Ballard. “We also want businesses to be able to operate safely and consider relocating or expanding here. That’s why we need to continue investing in technology and fostering positive relationships. By doing so, the stronger the community will be for residents, business owners and college students. It’s a win-win-win all the way around.”
As the home of Mississippi State University, Starkville is always brimming with activities and excitement, from sporting events, concerts and festivals to vibrant Main Street dining and shopping attractions to the quaint and inviting Cotton District near campus. The city has evolved from one of Mississippi’s most scenic and historically significant locales into a dynamic and modern community that’s routinely named among the best places in America to live, attend college, own a business or retire.