FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition (TBSC) has instituted the Texas Virtual Border Watch Program to enlist the public's assistance in preventing crime along the Texas-Mexico border. This initiative provides real-time streaming video over a web-based network to enable the public to report suspicious activity to the appropriate law enforcement agency via email. Day and night surveillance cameras have been placed strategically throughout the border region to deny drug and human smugglers unobserved access to the U.S. by placing high-threat areas under public surveillance. The numbers and locations of these cameras will constantly change based on threat. To view the Texas Virtual Border Watch cameras, the public can visit the www.BlueServo.net website.
'A significant number of Texas landowners who live and work along the border have requested cameras to be placed on their property. This initiative advances the concept of a neighborhood watch by leveraging the latest surveillance technology to create a 'virtual' neighborhood watch program," said Arvin West, Hudspeth County Sheriff and 1st Vice President of the TBSC. "By putting more eyes on the Texas-Mexico border, law enforcement can better protect our state from powerful and ruthless Mexican crime cartels and violent transnational gangs."
"It is a well-known fact that public involvement in community watch programs reduces crime," said TBSC Executive Director Donald L. Reay. "Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Border Sheriffs recognize the value of leveraging technology, public-private partnerships and the public to protect Texans."
Gov. Perry has provided $2 million in Criminal Justice grant funds to the TBSC for this initiative. Working with local law enforcement agencies, the State of Texas conducted a test in November 2006 to assess video camera capabilities and public interest in reporting suspicious activities observed over the Internet. Twenty-one cameras were used during a four-week pilot period, resulting in over 27,940,119 hits and 2,780 reports of suspicious activity.
"Leveraging advanced technology is a key part of our state-led approach to making our border stronger and our nation safer, and I am pleased with and will continue to support the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition commitment to seeing this virtual border watch concept fully realized," said Gov. Perry. "Under this innovative program and the watchful eye of law enforcement and citizens, those criminals, predators and terrorists looking to exploit our border with Mexico or do harm in our communities will lose their greatest strategic asset: the cloak of secrecy."
To minimize costs and maximize coverage, the TBSC entered into a public-private partnership with BlueServo to provide this much needed capability. The TBSC and BlueServo anticipate that a high volume of traffic to the website will generate advertising revenue to defray the infrastructure and costs of operating the Texas Virtual Border Watch Program, which would enable a substantial increase in the number of cameras deployed.
The Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition is comprised of 20 sheriffs from counties along the Texas-Mexico border. The coalition was formed in 2005 to protect Texans from criminal organizations that had long exploited the state's southern border.