With the mentality of “if you can predict it, you can prevent it,” police in the district will leverage a new Strategic Decision Support Center to fight crime. The hub will be home to new software and technology to support data-driven enforcement.
(TNS) — Police in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood have taken a stride toward smarter policing on Friday as the latest officers to receive a Strategic Decision Support Center in their district.
“It will serve as a dedicated intelligence hub,’’ where police can monitor developments in crime, including gang conflicts, in “real time’’ said Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who was flanked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, about 10 officers and at least two aldermen during a 3 p.m. news conference announcing the rollout of the new center at the Shakespeare Police District, 2150 N. California Ave.
The officers will have new software and mobile technology “at their fingertips,’’ Johnson said. “Targeted, data-driven enforcement over the past year has been at the forefront of CPD’s crime strategy.’’
Using the centers, which have been described by Johnson as “mini war rooms,” police can better predict where crimes may occur and respond more quickly to gunfire. District supervisors analyze data in real time through a computer program called HunchLab to determine where to deploy patrol and tactical officers.
“Today with this technology and data, we're basically adopting the philosophy: If you can predict it, you can prevent it,’’ Emanuel said.
Shakespeare is among one of the last of the city’s 22 districts to receive a strategic center.
On red brick walls of the small room hung four massive flatscreens showing live images of the city’s streets from “every pod camera’’ of the 86 the district has. A half-dozen computer monitors are set up at tables under the screens, one of which is dedicated to HunchLab. Officers are also able to access 35,000 more cameras in the area, said Lt. Patrick O’Donnell.
Some of the new technology includes “license plate reading’’ and ShotSpotter technology.
“It’s really exciting,’’ said Shakespeare District police Chief Jonathan Lewin, as he showed reporters and aldermen around the room. Three or four police officers work inside, Lewin said, as well as a civilian who is an expert in the technology.
Officers monitor service calls and make the “best choices’’ in deployments of officers in the field, and decreased response times, which means the difference “between life and death,’’ Johnson said.
“This is making a real difference in the city,’’ Lewin said.
As of year’s end, the Chicago Police Department had expanded the number of districts that have such centers, but they have been operating the longest in the Harrison and Englewood districts, which are still among the most violent in the city.
Shakespeare District Cmdr. Fabian Saldana said his district, which patrols the large entertainment areas of Wicker Park, Logan Square and Bucktown, struggles with burglaries, auto break-ins and package thefts more than shootings or homicides. While Saldana was eager to get the center up and running, he said it’s “only as good as the people you have working on it. Training will be ongoing.’’
“None of this replaces people, it just enhances,’’ Lewin added.
For 2019, Johnson said earlier, he hoped to further expand the strategic centers, making them available to detectives.
“It’s reducing crime,’’ said 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins, who briefly spoke at the news conference. “We have to get smarter because the criminals get smarter.’’
©2019 the Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.