Wednesday, December 13, 2006

MPD Studies NYPD

Posted on Wed, Dec 13, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Memphis may be a far cry from New York City, but Memphis Police Director (MPD) Larry Godwin would like to imitate the Big Apple’s successful crime-fighting technology in the Bluff City. Godwin recently returned from New York, where he and five other high-ranking officers studied New York’s police department.

They were most impressed with the NYPD’s Real Time Crime Center, a state-of-the-art facility that provides on-the-scene incident reports to the department’s detectives. New York officers drive to crime scenes in special computer-equipped vans and send information to officers waiting at the crime center.

Godwin says Memphis will soon be moving forward with its own version of the crime center, integrating MPD databases to facilitate using their PDAs and laptops in the same manner. A crime center will be set up on the 10th floor of 201 Poplar, which currently houses empty office space.

The future crime center will also contain video surveillance technology that would allow the MPD to set up cameras in crime hotspots around the city. The images would be displayed on screens in the crime center, where an officer would monitor the video for suspicious activity. Funding for this operation has already been secured through grants.

Memphis is already doing some of things that have been successful in New York, such as using crime data to determine hotspots in the Blue Crush operation.

“We’re already following the same track they’ve laid down,” said Deputy Chief Dewey Betts at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

But there is one thing New York has that Memphis may never have — a large police presence. The NYPD has 4.5 officers per 1,000 citizens, while Memphis currently has 3.0 officer per 1,000 residents. If a proposal to hire 650 more officers is approved, Memphis will have 3.7 officers per 1,000 people.

“They have a police officer on every corner,” said Godwin. “We can’t afford to do that.”

by Bianca Phillips

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