Federal Cash to Help Modernize N.C. Police Agency's 'Real-Time Crime Center'

May 20, 2024
Nearly $630,000 in federal money will help the Raleigh Police Department to modernize the agency's "real-time crime center" in an effort to make the agency more proactive.

By Anna Johnson

Source The News & Observer (Raleigh)

Police are often reactive.

A break-in happens at a store. Someone trespasses at a gas station. A person is shot.

Then someone calls 911. And then police respond.

The Raleigh Police Department hopes modernizing the department’s “real-time crime center,” through $629,000 in new federal funding, will help law enforcement be more proactive.

“I firmly believe that when we equip our officers with the equipment they need, they then can effectively prevent crime, they can efficiently respond to crime in progress and they can deter crime from happening in the first place,” Police Chief Estella Patterson said during a press conference this week.

The Raleigh Police Department’s crime analysts review trends, videos and databases, but the work is done manually.

“That has become an increasingly tedious and complex task and takes time to complete,” Maj. Derrick Ford said. “Modernizing and bolstering our technology will allow accessing and utilizing this data to better identify crime trends, patterns and understand the complex criminal networks that exist.”

For example, Patterson said, take someone who is loitering and then decides to break into a property. If law enforcement has access to the business’s security camera they might be able to see the crime in real-time and send officers out immediately instead of waiting for the business owner to realize they’ve had a break-in.

“We have to wait a lot of times until Monday morning, the following day, whatever may be the case for our analysts to come in together, scrub all the information, go through what they see,” Patterson said. “This is going to allow us to have it done automatically. That is going to aid our analysts and our detectives, and they will be able to solve crimes much quicker.”

This is done, in part, through a new program called Connect Raleigh. The city recently started it to let businesses, property owners and residents “register” their own cameras so police can ask for a recording of the video if a crime happened nearby. Property owners can also “integrate” their cameras and give law enforcement direct access to them.

As of this week, there are 719 cameras integrated into the system and 404 cameras registered in the program.

Many police departments around the country are moving toward “real-time” crime centers to address staff shortages. The city has about 80 to 90 vacancies in the Raleigh Police Department, or about 10% of the force.

“Through this technology we will send a clear message to those who are victimizing or who are thinking of victimizing others that we know who they are and that we will hold them accountable for the crimes they’ve committed,” Patterson said.

The exact program or technology to modernize the real-time crime center, called a public safety intelligent management system, has yet to be identified, Patterson said. That work will occur with the police and city’s IT team but should be named within six months and implemented soon after.

The federal funding, secured in part by U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross, will only cover a portion of the cost of the new system. Raleigh City Manager Marchell Adams-David will unveil her proposed budget to city leaders next week.


©2024 Raleigh News & Observer.

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