St. Louis police reveal hi-tech, “Real Time Crime Center”

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – The St. Louis Police Department unveiled a hi-tech initiative Thursday, that’s been two years in the making. It’s called the “Real Time Crime Center.”

Eight of the brightest analytical, investigative, and technical St. Louis police officers now staff this new crime center, located inside the new police headquarters.

The officers monitor more than 100 public and private surveillance and traffic cameras, looking for suspicious activity. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says, “We’re talking to BJC, Ameren, Downtown Partnership, Central West End, about gaining access to their cameras. That’s the smart way to do it, and the efficient, economical way to do it.”

If they spot something, a robbery for instance, they can send the video directly to officers in the field, using Motorola technology.

These cameras are just one example of the technology integrated into the Real Time Crime Center.

License plate recognition cameras also feed into the Real Time Crime Center. If a vehicle is involved in a crime, this technology helps police identify what that car looks like, and generally, where it travels. Downtown STL, Inc. plans to install five of these cameras as well.

Mayor Francis Slay says law-abiding citizens have nothing to worry about. The cameras will only be in public places; no ‘big brother’ spying. He explains, “This is about making our community safer. And we do have policies in place, which we will make available, in terms of the use of the information.” Dotson adds, “Cameras in public space are a part of everyday life. The case study is there, the examples are there, we’re just getting caught up.”

There’s also “ShotSpotter”, a technology that detects gunshots, and can pinpoint a shooter’s location. All this information will be sent to officers in the field, in real time.

Slay says, “What this does is give the men and women of our department even better tools and more information to do their jobs better. And as the chief said, this is bad for criminals. It’s good for law-abiding citizens.”

Several other cities, including Kansas City, Chicago and New York, already have similar crime centers. This is just phase 1 out of 4. Dotson says three phases should be completed by the fall.

The roughly $435,000 crime center is funded through the St. Louis Police Foundation, a FEMA grant, and asset forfeiture.