A new era in POLICING

Grant funding gives law enforcement the opportunity to cash in on groundbreaking technologies


     According to Rubenstein, the Chicago police have enabled PODSS cameras for gunshot detection and license plate recognition, and notes this is the largest integration project of its kind.

     "The data we have been gathering on the effectiveness of the various systems represents the most comprehensive comparative study to date," he says.

     "The City of Chicago's significant investment in public safety has made it a model example for urban centers around the country to follow."

A watchful 'Eye'
     Chicago-based EyeNet Enforcement Systems offers technology that can read license plates from video captured by the POD cameras. The camera and license plate reader system is approximately $10,000, and can be used with an existing camera. Some PODs are programmed to point in the direction provided by gunshot sensors and link with EyeNet's license plate reader system.

     Tom Tarach, CEO of EyeNet, says there were challenges with the implementation.

     "This had never been done before, but the Chicago Police Department was determined to make it work," Tarach says. "With a few tweaks and adjustments we found we had a working system that could scan license plates from a video stream."

     Tarach adds the Chicago police now have two EyeNet readers which can easily process real-time video streams from any of the city's wireless POD cameras.

Intelligence-gathering tech
     CLEAR (Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis & Reporting) has taken inter-agency cooperation to new levels in and around Chicago. CLEAR is now used by 411 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. In 2007 the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department was added as the first agency in the state of Minnesota to participate in CLEAR. Chicago's information sharing system has received national attention and has been selected for examination and analysis in the National Institute of Justice funded study entitled "Comprehensive Regional Information Sharing Systems."

     Catherine Kolb, director of development for the Chicago PD's Information Services Division, knows CLEAR is only as good as the information going in. "Every one of our databases has to be made searchable. Every bit of information we gather - arrest reports, federal intelligence, gang affiliation, traffic violations - must be retrievable by easy search methods, otherwise it's not valuable."

     Lewin is also is determined to associate every gathering system into CLEAR. "We are now at a point where everything an officer observes on the street and every piece of information he or she inputs is immediately available to everyone using CLEAR."

     Lewin also installed Info-Cop on 30 Blackberry devices. "Info-Cop improves officer and public safety by enabling real-time, interdepartmental tracking of summons or warnings issued on the system," he says.

     According to Lewin, officers can use the Blackberry devices independently, without having to go back to the vehicle to access the computer in the car.

     "Officers on foot or conducting missions have access to a huge database of information on wanted people or vehicles, gang offenders, crime patterns and previous police stops - it'll result in more crimes being solved and smarter policing."

A safe harbor
     Lt. Christopher Kennedy, commanding officer of the Chicago PD's marine unit protects the busy Chicago harbors and over 800,000 registered boat owners. Recently purchased with $225,000 in Port Security Grant funding is the M-5, a SAFE Boats International high-performance hull design vessel.

     SAFE Boats supplies military and law enforcement vessels to agencies around the world. Its patented underwater fin technology maximizes stability and maneuverability even in high seas.

     In addition to shoreline patrol, the marine unit is also responsible for the sensitive freshwater intake crib security - where much of the Midwest's water supply originates. In 2006 and 2007, the Chicago PD's marine unit purchased an underwater remote control camera for inspecting hulls and searching for submerged objects, sophisticated 3D sonar scanning devices, and an ice rescue truck.

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