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Sacramento, Calif., Police Launch Real-Time Crime Center

A newly announced crime center gives officers in the field real-time, tech-enabled intelligence during large events and critical incidents.

by / December 7, 2016
Sacramento Police Department personnel demonstrate some of the capabilities of the newly announced Real-Time Crime Center during a press conference in Sacramento Dec. 7. Screen grab from Sacramento Police Department Periscope Feed

On Dec. 7, the Sacramento, Calif., Police Department took a critical step in protecting its community — it launched a real-time crime center to aid officers in the management of large events and critical incidents throughout the city.

During a Wednesday morning press conference, officials with the law enforcement agency demonstrated the various capabilities of the Real-Time Crime Center, which include the ability to pipe in and monitor a variety of digital assets.

Chief Samuel Somers Jr. said the center plays into the city’s gradual rebuilding strategy, which was born out of the 2008 recession. In line with efforts to replace personnel lost during the downturn, Somers said the department also needed to look at rebuilding its technological foundation.

“The cornerstone of [the department’s technology efforts] is the Real-Time Crime Center,” he said. "This is still a work in progress, but it’s to the point now where it is very functional, very useable and we want to make sure that people understand that we have this out there.”

In the effort to bring more information to the officers on the street, Somers said his department leveraged the knowledge base of agencies across the country who had already launched similar centers to gather and identify best practices.

The department’s real-time center was also melded with the crime analysis unit for more cohesive information to field and investigative personnel, Somers explained.

“One of the biggest things that we are trying to get out of this is that we are trying to send a message," he said. "We want to send a message that we are serious about making Sacramento the safest big city in California."

According to Det. Sgt. Marty Stigerts, who helped to oversee the center's creation, law enforcement officials have access to more than 46 live camera police department police observation devices (PODs), or mobile camera systems, as well as a host of other streaming video feeds from surface streets, public transit and popular public areas.

More than 100 transportation-related cameras are also being accessed within municipal boundaries. The sergeant said she hopes to add 35 more police cameras to the network within the next six months.

Sacramento Regional Transit, the agency responsible for the city’s light rail and bus transit systems, has also moved its own monitoring operations within the department’s new control center.

“The Real-Time Crime Center will constantly evolve and change as technology does," Stigerts said. "We will strive to stay current and active in keeping up and ahead of technology trends."

In addition to monitoring a host of video streams in real-time, center staff also monitor radio traffic, social media feeds and tools like ShotSpotter, a program that triangulates gunshots. Stigerts said the idea behind the center is to provide “rapid and real-time information to officers in the field” during events, investigation and critical incidents.

“While the communications center is dedicated to direct information from the public to the officers in the field," he said, "the Real-Time Crime Center will have dedicated, trained detectives and officers monitoring and directing that information to the officers in the field."

Mapping also plays into the larger strategy — both calls for service and officer GPS locations are placed on an interactive map, which is displayed on a large screen. The location of the PODs will also be mapped.

The crime center has actually been operational since June 2016, but the team has been working through small issues prior to the official announcement, Stigerts said, adding that a list of some of the center's successes will be released at a later time.

Eyragon Eidam Web Editor

Eyragon Eidam is the Web editor for Government Technology magazine, after previously serving as  assistant news editor and covering such topics as legislation, social media and public safety. He can be reached at eeidam@erepublic.com.