St. Louis police trying to keep watchful eye on public safety

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - The Real Time Crime Center at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is now a year old. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said it’s been a welcome addition to crime fighting.

“We’re really happy with the results we’re seeing,” Dotson said.

When a cop answers a call for help, the people in the center immediately begin looking at surveillance cameras in that part of town.

“To see if we can get a description of a suspect, to see if we can get a description of a vehicle see, if we can catch something to help the officers,” Dotson said. “…What we’re seeing in the first year is technology is helping police take the bad guys off the streets.”

There are thousands of cameras in the city, about 50 of which are owned by police. The others are the property of organizations and businesses. Police now have permission to tap into about 550 of those as well. The crime center makes folks feel safer.

Some of the cameras scan license plates are part of the Real Time Crime Center. Those have resulted in 125 arrests for serious crimes; 42 stolen vehicles and 13 illegal firearms were recovered.

Parts of St. Louis are more involved in the center. The Central West End has 75 cameras that are now connected to the police department.

“That’s 75 additional eyes we have on the streets,” Dotson said.

Chief Dotson would like help from businesses and other organizations to connect to even more cameras. For example, the city of London, England has so many cameras the chief there said the average Londoner is seen by a security camera more than 80 times a day.

And for a more Midwestern comparison, Chicago police are connected to approximately 20,000 cameras in the city.