As Cameras Track Detroit’s Residents, a Debate Ensues Over Racial Bias

Twenty-four hours a day, video from thousands of cameras stationed around Detroit, at gas stations, restaurants, mini-marts, apartment buildings, churches and schools, streams into the Police Department’s downtown headquarters.

The surveillance program, which began in 2016, is the opposite of covert. A flashing green light marks each participating location, and the point of the popular initiative, known as Project Green Light, has been for the cameras to be noticed and help deter crime. Detroit’s mayor, Mike Duggan, received applause when he promised at his State of the City address earlier this year that expanding the network to include several hundred traffic light cameras would allow the police to “track any shooter or carjacker across the city.”