Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Memphis Police Department Unveils Real Time Crime Center

Posted By on Wed, Apr 16, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Boasting a massive wall of 42 large-screen monitors, the Memphis Police Department's new Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) is a couch potato’s dream come true.

But RTCC officers won't be watching the game or Project Runway. They'll be monitoring multiple cameras placed in crime hotspots around the city. The screens also serve as computer monitors displaying maps of where crime is happening as soon as it's reported. There's even an up-to-the-minute "news ticker" displaying the last 15 reported crimes in the city.

The RTCC, which was modeled after the New York Police Department's Real Time Crime Center, allows officers to search multiple databases for information on crime locations, crime suspects, or vehicles within minutes. Previously, the information-gathering process could take several days. Patrol officers will even be able to pull up real time crime data on their PDAs.

"This will enable us to fight crime in a much better way than we ever have before," said MPD Director Larry Godwin at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

The center isn't up and running yet, but it will be ready for a test run in time for the Memphis In May Beale Street Music Festival. Godwin says it should be running 24/7 by June. (Police hope local media will keep the location of the center under wraps.)

Godwin says the technology at the Memphis center surpasses New Yorks model. Memphis patrol officers file police reports directly into PDAs, and that information is fed immediately into the real time crime databases. New York officers still use a paper reporting system.

The Memphis center was also built more cheaply than New York's $12 million center. The Memphis RTCC cost $3.5 million, $1.6 million of which came from grant funding.

--Bianca Phillips

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