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An Eye On Crime

Bazzi Oil & Gas teamed up with the Detroit Police Department to pilot a program aimed at reducing crime at convenience stores.

​By Sarah Hamaker

Detroit convenience stores like Bazzi Oil & Gas have a new weapon in the fight against crime, thanks to Project Green Light Detroit, a partnership between community groups, the Detroit Police Department (DPD) and city officials. The initiative blends real-time crime fighting with community policing to improve neighborhood safety and promote revitalization and growth of local businesses, as well as strengthen police efforts in crime solving.

“Keeping our stores secure for customers and employees has always been a priority for our business,” said Fadel Bazzi, owner and operator of Bazzi Oil & Gas, a premier Citgo Petroleum Marketer in the metro Detroit area. “By being part of Project Green Light Detroit, we hope to not only further ensure the safety and well-being of local community members, but also make a positive impact here in our hometown.”

Joining the Program
With eight locations throughout the city, Bazzi has always had a close relationship with city police. “Since I had these interactions regularly with the DPD, when the mayor’s office started talking about how to make gas stations and convenience stores safer, I was part of that discussion,” he said.

Bazzi and nine other gas station owners gathered with city officials and the DPD to develop what eventually became Project Green Light Detroit. “We met three or four times to put the pieces together to have an effective collaboration between the city, DPD and businesses,” he said.

Project Green Light Detroit launched its pilot program in January with 10 businesses, including a Bazzi Oil & Gas store. “For the test, I picked a location near a major intersection but not one that had a problem with crime,” Bazzi said, adding that he wanted to support the community and police by participating in the pilot program.

To be part of the program, businesses must purchase and install specific high-definition indoor and outdoor cameras, as well as upgrade to a high-speed Internet connection over which to send real-time video feeds to the police. “We already had a 16-camera security system in place
that we kept,” Bazzi said. “For Project Green Light Detroit, we added four additional cameras.” The new equipment cost him $6,000.

The initiative also requests that businesses post Project Green Light Detroit signage, such as metal flag signs under station canopies, decals on doors and physical green lights above price signs. Gas stations also have to improve lighting both inside and outside their stores, which Bazzi had already done when he converted to LED lights at most of his stores. “We now have extra bright lighting out- side our stations, which I see as a major deterrent to crime,” he said.

Real-Time Accountability
The police department has staff devoted to effectively receive, monitor and analyze video feeds from Project Green Light Detroit partners. The project also aims to strengthen the local ties between participating gas stations, DPD precinct captains, DPD neighborhood police officers and community leaders and organizations.

The system kicks into gear when a station employee or customer calls 911 to report a potential crime. “The call center alerts the DPD, which has someone monitoring the video feed,” Bazzi explained. “Then the officer can help determine what type of response is necessary.” He added that the higher-quality video also helps police investigate any incidents.

Bazzi stressed that while Project Green Light Detroit is a collaborative effort that will likely bear fruit in reducing overall crime at convenience stores, he also is not slacking off on basic security measures at his stores. “We have zero tolerance for loitering at our stores and have found that alone cuts crime in half,” he said. Other security measures include clean stores and trained personnel.

So far, Bazzi has been pleased with customer reaction to the signs touting his participation in Project Green Light Detroit. “They are thanking us for making things safer and appreciate the extra effort we’ve taken,” he said. “For us, it’s been worth the investment.” So far, Bazzi has been pleased with customer reaction to the signs touting his participation in Project Green Light Detroit. “They are thanking us for making things safer and appreciate the extra effort we’ve taken,” he said. “For us, it’s been worth the investment.”

Now that the initial testing phase has ended, the program is open to any city business. Bazzi plans to add perhaps a location a year to the Project Green Light Detroit. “It’s a good community effort and a good way to collaborate with the police department on keeping our city safer,” he said.

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and NACS Daily and NACS Magazine contributor based in Fairfax, Virginia. Visit her online at www.sarahhamaker.com