Thursday, June 24, 2010

Portable video surveillance cameras and more Armour Boulevard crime-fighting

Yesterday, I told you about the Armour Boulevard Restriction Zone and some of the other efforts we're making to fight crime in that area. Another tool we're using there, in other problem areas, and to maintain security at high-profile events with relatively little manpower is portable video cameras. These cameras recently captured a shooting on Armour Boulevard and were used by officers to track down the suspect. I wanted to share the below video with you to demonstrate what a great tool these cameras are. (There is no audio - just video.)

First, these cameras are portable. We’ve used them at the St. Patrick’s Day parades, at major downtown conventions and even at stand-off situations to transmit video back to the command post. The area of Armour and Troost has been experiencing an escalation in crime, so officers set up these cameras on top of some of the buildings there. The video from the cameras fed back to the Central Patrol Division station where they could be monitored by limited-duty or patrol officers.

At about 7:58 p.m. on May 18, someone called 911 about a shooting at Armour and Troost and gave a description of the suspect (he's wearing the dark shirt and dark shorts, and you can see him fire his gun at the victim in the red shirt about 43 seconds into the video). The Center Zone desk sergeant immediately turned to the cameras and started looking for the suspect. The video shows how the cameras actually captured the shooting itself. Soon, after switching, moving and zooming various cameras temporarily installed in the area, the desk sergeant spotted someone who matched the suspect’s description. He radioed to officers who were just a few blocks away and directed them to the front of the apartment building the suspects entered. If you look closely, you can see the suspect handing his gun off to someone else, who then passed it to someone to take inside the apartment building. You can also see the frightened little girl who sees all this happen.

The victim in this case suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the back of the head, and he refused to prosecute. Police are, however, pursuing weapons charges against the suspect.

We will continue to use these cameras in high-crime areas and would like to find resources to expand the program. As you can see, they are a very powerful tool. If criminals know an officer could be watching them, this could prevent dangerous behavior. And if a crime does take place, these cameras can be used to track down the perpetrator. Like I said, these video cameras are mobile, and they’re designed to feed back into any patrol station or the City’s Emergency Operations Center. As new areas of concern arise, we’d like to use these cameras to combat them.

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