ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - Fair St. Louis security is rather visible on the ground. Security check points, police patrols and first aid stations manned by firefighters were easy to spot.
What fair goers did not see was the unified effort by local first responders, the Missouri Department of Transportation and even the FBI. The coordinated security plan put representatives from each agency in one mobile command trailer with access to multiple cameras scattered through the Forest Park fair site and along the nearby interstates and roads.
“We’re able to talk to not only the city departments but the regional departments, the state departments, military and also the federal government,” said Gary Christmann, St. Louis City’s Emergency Management Agency Commissioner.
Streaming video from a helicopter operated by Metro Air Support as well as MODOT highway and road cameras give police and traffic engineers bird’s eye views of crowd and traffic movements.
Thanks to the unified command center the team was able to adjust traffic lights and street closures to help speed fair goers coming or leaving the park.
“This brings everybody together. We can address each issue unified and make sure we’re addressing it appropriately and responding according to what the need is,” explained Christmann.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson sees a major advantage in creating a permanent center where cameras around the city could be monitored. “I would like to see the city of St. Louis have a real-time intelligence center where we can manage traffic, where we can address crime issues from a single point,” Dotson said Saturday.
A St. Louis City Bond issue proposal under discussion this summer at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen could include six million dollars to finance construction of such a center at the new police headquarters building that will open shortly.
Cameras in public entertainment districts, around Ballpark Village and even private buildings might be linked to such a center. “This isn’t secret spying. What this is really doing is taking the investment that is there and trying to make people safer with it,” Dotson said.