Jackson County

Exercising on the bridge in Ocean Springs is about to get a lot safer

OCEAN SPRINGS -- An alleged sexual assault on a popular exercise spot in Ocean Springs prompted the city and a group of women advocates to take action, and Mayor Connie Moran said that within the next few weeks walkers and runners who utilize the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge are going to feel a lot safer.

Moran said on Friday that the city ordered two surveillance cameras to place near the bridge that will record traffic 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One camera, Moran said, will be pointed towards the steps where walkers enter the pathway. The other camera will point from the pathway to the crest of the bridge.

"Video is sent by wifi to a reception station that will be at Ocean Springs Yacht Club," Moran said. "Images can be monitored by our police at the Ocean Springs Police Department."

The cameras cost $10,000, and the money was raised by Women Against Violence Everywhere, or WAVE, a group formed after a Nov. 19, 2016, alleged sexual assault that took place on the bridge. She was attacked at about 8:30 p.m., according to Ocean Springs police.

Moran said WAVE received two large donations -- from an attorney in Jackson and from the Foundation for The First Bank, and the rest of the money was raised from small, private donations.

Moran said it will cost $2,500 to erect the cameras. That price includes the cost for the pole, sleeve, concrete and electricity to run to the bridge. The city paid for $1,500 of the expense, and WAVE paid the remaining $1000.

The city had to submit a right of way permit application through MDOT before installing the cameras. Moran said the permit was mailed on Thursday, and it should be in her hands on Monday morning.

The city already has the supplies needed to begin installation.

"We're just waiting for the cameras," Moran said.

The footage will be active for 30 days before it rolls over itself, and Moran said the cameras are high-resolution and will produce clear images at night.

The poles, she said, will be tamper-proof.

Moran said there have been no other reported sexual assault incidents on the bridge since November 2014, but she hopes the cameras will promote a safe place for physical activity in the city.

"It got the community together, and I'm very grateful the women in WAVE for raising this money to improve security on one of our more popular facilities for healthy exercise," Moran said.

The cameras could be installed as early as next week, pending their delivery.