This city’s got a lot of eyes...from cameras on casino rooftops to those permanently fixed along the Strip. Detective Ryan Perry with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Technical and Surveillance Section shares his thoughts with LET on implementing new technology like solar camera towers (how the community responded) and how important it is to keep things in perspective during a career filled with change.
LET: What’s new at your agency?
Perry: We recently installed 37 permanent cameras along the Strip. We took this project on as a unit, in an attempt to save our agency money, manage the installation, and control the quality of the system.
We felt we had the expertise to implement a project of this scale. Through our partnership with the Nevada Department of Transportation, we were able to put our cameras on the NDOT’s fiber network on the Strip. After selecting the most critical sites for camera installations, we had cable run to the poles, and we installed cameras. Wireless aggregate points were installed as a backup, and as a location where future cameras could be put on the network from casino rooftops. In coordination with our Real Time Crime Center we had a video wall installed for monitoring.
The cameras have operated near flawlessly since their installation, and we put them through their first large scale test during the New Year’s Eve celebration, which was attended by over 300,000 people from around the world.
LET: What else have you recently purchased and/or begun researching?
Perry: The most recent purchase our unit has made is an MSA thermal imager, and a Zistos “Through the Wall Camera Kit.” We use the thermal imager in conjunction with our SWAT explosive breachers to provide them with a layout of the interior of the walls before they place their charges. We use the thermal imager to determine the best location for camera placement in the wall. This way we can usually avoid studs, pipes, and electrical wiring.
We’re currently researching solar camera towers. In fact, we have a prototype we built in-house to test this concept. Our experience in deploying the test camera tower was overwhelmingly positive. When we placed the tower in one of our highest crime areas we saw an immediate decrease in criminal activity. Residents of the community came out to tell us how much they loved having the camera there, and they were sad to see it go when we had to remove it.
LET: If money was not an issue, what’s on your wish list?
Perry: I would like to see our agency move forward with acquiring several camera trailers. We have seen great potential in utilizing this technology, and we believe if it is deployed in conjunction with crime mapping, it can be a valuable tool.
LET: What training programs do you embrace, or what skills do you find yourself practicing regularly?
Perry: We have a training section dedicated to providing continuing education and training for our police officers and civilians. I really enjoy the training we get, and the classes offered to us.
On a personal note, I find myself shooting quite often. As an officer that works in plain clothes I don’t carry anything but a firearm. Because I am limited with the tools I have available to me, I try to be as proficient as possible with what I have.
My unit also requires some unique skills not typically associated with law enforcement. We do a lot of computer networking with the cameras and video servers we maintain. I attended a tech school prior to coming to this unit, and got my Network+ certification.
We also send new detectives in our unit to FLETC to attend their electronic surveillance program. Our detectives that are primarily responsible for pen registers, and Title III intercepts, regularly attend training conferences and meetings around the country provided by vendors and the FBI.
LET: Are you headed to any tradeshows or expos?
Perry: We go to the NATIA (National Technical Investigators Association) conference each year. We also attend the SHOT show, ISC West, and CES, here in Las Vegas. We attend a lot of training with our vendors, too.
LET: Do you have a favorite memory from your career?
Perry: There have been so many. The best would have to be the people I have worked with over the past 14 years. I had a blast working as a motorcycle traffic officer with one of my best friends. I really love the unit I am in now. From the top to the bottom, this has been the best squad, and the best group of guys I have ever worked with.
LET: What’s the most memorable piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Perry: To be grateful for what I have. Sometimes in law enforcement negativity can creep into the attitudes of many cops. I try to remind myself how much I really love my job, and what a blessing it has been in my life. I try to come to work with a positive attitude every day. After 14 years, I still love my job. I can’t think of any other agency I would rather work for or any other job I would rather be doing.
As a kid growing up around Las Vegas I always wanted to be a cop with the LVMPD. We are far from perfect, but I have had an incredible career with them and I have been able to do everything I have had an interest in doing. I try to keep that in mind when changes come.
LET: What’s your off-duty MO?
Perry: I’m a family man all the way. I have a beautiful wife, five great kids, and one on the way. I love to hunt with my boys. I am also currently going to school.
I’m a total history nerd, too. One of my favorite books is “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. I’m also reading “John Adams” by David McCullough.
About three years ago I got into cycling and I absolutely love it. I usually ride with my wife several times a week. I love comedies like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, “The Goldberg’s”, and “The Middle.” We also watch “The Blacklist”, “Revolution”, and my new favorite, “Crisis.” My all-time favorite movie is The Dark Knight, but I love the entire Batman trilogy. More than anything, I really enjoy spending time with my family.
LET: What do you think law enforcement will look like 10 to 15 years from now?
Perry: I think cameras will continue to play an important role. As we move forward, I believe we will have partnerships that will provide law enforcement greater access to other agencies’ cameras, including city and county buildings, schools, and additional NDOT cameras. I think we will see additional partnerships with the casinos along the Strip, to at least allow access to certain cameras during a critical situation. We will continue to move forward with several phases of our current camera project. Coverage will be expanded to include more areas in the Las Vegas valley. Mobile camera towers used in conjunction with crime mapping, intelligence led policing, and community partnerships, will give officers a significant advantage.