MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While Memphis Police are working on adding more boots on the ground to fight crime in our city, another initiative is just taking off.  

A new initiative by a film company called SMS Novel aims to deter criminals from above. 

“That’s always been a passion of mine, basically to alleviate suffering,” said Jomo Johnson, social justice advocate and founder of SMS Novel. “And I believe that drone and AI coverage and footage is a great way to be able to do that in neighborhoods that are really being hit hard with violence, carjackings, and open-air shootings.”

If a drone can capture the perfect shots for his films, why couldn’t it capture video of criminals in action? That’s why Johnson decided Memphis would be the perfect place to launch the project.

Starting December 31, people in the Shelby Forest/Frayser area may notice a camera flying up above either catching criminals in the act or deterring them from committing a crime in the first place. 

“A lot of citizens recognize that the police are doing all they can, they appreciate the police, but they want to think about new creative, maybe alternative methods,” Johnson said.

According to the Memphis Crime Commission, overall crime is up more than 17 percent from last year. Chief Davis says she’s open to all the help they can get when it comes to curbing the violence. 

“Technology is a way for us to help monitor different events whether it is a high school game or whatever activity our children are involved in,” she said. “School systems or community members might utilize drones whether it is parades or whatever event.”

This is a trial run for the program, and if it’s successful, Johnson hopes to expand it to other areas and other cities in need.  

It costs $10,000 a month to run the program, and that’s why they are still raising money. But Johnson says you can’t put a price on a life. 

“I just think about the lives of those that have been lost in Memphis, to say what if we could prevent one, is it worth it,” he said.

The program will run for one month in Memphis and they will evaluate from there. To learn more about the program or donate, click here.