OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Drive across the the Biloxi Bay Bridge and it's almost always packed with people getting in a workout. There's a great view, but walkers and joggers sometimes run into problems. It doesn't happen often, but criminals have targeted people on the bridge.
On the Ocean Springs side, there are two cameras overhead watching your every move. But who's watching those cameras?
"As a woman walking by myself, I feel iffy," said walker Mary Haaf.
Mary said she usually walks alone in the morning, so she carries the essentials, "I have keys. I have spray, and I have a whistle."
The walk is 1.6 miles one way. If someone suspicious approaches, walkers and joggers have nowhere to go except over the wall into traffic or into the water.
"I would not walk at night. Even with other people, I don't think I'd feel safe doing that," Mary said.
The cameras on the Ocean Springs side of the bridge make some feel safer, thinking someone's watching over them. "No, the cameras are not constantly monitored," said Captain William Jackson with the Ocean Springs Police Department.
Captain Jackson said the cameras record footage and stores it for two weeks. "An incident happens on the bridge, we're able to go back and review footage," he said.
The cameras weren't around in November 2014 when a woman was sexually assaulted on the bridge. Captain Jackson said, "Sometime later after that some citizens got together, raised the funds to install the cameras on the bridge."
The cameras were installed in 2016 and have helped to solve crime, according to the captain. "We had a situation where it was a burglary. Someone was breaking into cars," he added. Investigators were able to watch the camera footage, identify a suspect and make an arrest.
One of the cameras points at the parking area. The other focuses on the east side of the bridge.
"We've been down a lot, usually on beach front sometimes on the bridge. I've never felt that I wasn't safe," said walker Angel Greenhill. She and her family walk the bridge just about every afternoon on warmer days. When I told her no one was watching the cameras, she said she will be more aware of her surroundings.
"I guess I really haven't thought about it. Maybe making sure I have my keys in my hands," Angel said.
"I do carry keys and I always have a cell phone," added walker Kathy Bourgeois. She said she feels safe but takes precautions. Like others, she was surprised to learn the cameras are only useful after something bad happens.
"I think they should monitor the cameras for women like myself who are out here in the evening time by ourselves. If there is an emergency and say you lose phone service for some reason, they want somebody to be able to back you up or be able to come for help," Kathy said.
"As many people that walk this bridge, there needs to be some kind of cameras and monitoring of those cameras," added Mary.
Even if the cameras were monitored, Captain Jackson said they are not the first line of defense for women walking the bridge.
"Especially late at night when it's dark, go with a partner. Go in pairs. Let someone know where you are. If something were to happen, be sure you keep your cell phone on you," he said. "If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, regardless if anything has happened to you or not, call the Ocean Springs Police Department and we'll send a patrol car out there to check out the situation."
At this time, the Ocean Springs Police Department doesn't plan on adding more cameras on the bridge. Biloxi officials say at this time, they aren't considering installing cameras on their side of the bridge.