ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Six months into its operation, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s Real-Time Crime Center is releasing its first statistics.
In a story exclusive to KMOX News, Police Chief Sam Dotson is announcing that the fixed license plate recognition (LPR) cameras placed around the city have received 726 hits between June 18 and Oct. 1.
“What we’re seeing are results,” Dotson tells KMOX. “The information that comes through the Real-Time Crime Center is sent out to officers in the street in a way that’s actionable, that’s clear to see that it’s led to arrests, in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to do it before.”
He says 48 arrests were made due to the hits that came as a result of the LPRs, with a resulting 126 criminal charges.
St. Louis Police Lt. Brent Feig says the department had all the technologies at its disposal before the RTCC opened in April – just not in one place.
“So really, the goal is to leverage our computer-aided dispatching system that the 911 calls come in on, and then put together the analytic work to be able to push that to officers for situational awareness,” Feig explains.
He says the process begins the moment the crime center receives a 911 call.
“Our detectives that are assigned here to the Real-Time Crime Center will immediately start to see if there are any cameras in the area that they can pan, tilt or zoom to either capture the incident real time, or a potential suspect that’s fleeing,” Feig says.
That information is then immediately broadcast out to responding officers, making them more aware and thus safer before they encounter a situation in the field.
With 140 cameras working the city, are there privacy concerns?
KMOX posed the question to Dotson.
“All the LPR technologies that we have are in public spaces, so as you or I move around any time — if you go into a movie theater, you’re caught on video. If you walk into a bank, you’re caught on video,” Dotson says. “I will tell you the vast majority of people I come into contact with like the cameras. They think it adds to their safety, and I agree with them.”
He says they’ve recovered 16 stolen vehicles, three firearms, and even made progress on missing persons cases as a result of the cameras.
Dotson is now pushing for a reversal of the recent Missouri Supreme Court decision that red-light cameras are unconstitutional and caused more than 70 of them in St. Louis to go dark.
“Those cameras have helped us solve crimes,” he insists, adding that it’s a manpower issue, as well.
“If you violate the red light, that means an officer has to go and write a ticket and take them out of service when there’s a technology – cameras – that could actually do that for us, freeing up our officers to be in our neighborhoods doing other jobs,” Dotson says.
Dotson also announced this week that the Real-Time Crime Center, which opened in April, was named the recipient of the International Association of Law Enforcement Planners (IALEP) 2015 Phil E. Keith Project of the Year Award, presented annually to an organization that demonstrates a unique, beneficial and valued project, program or initiative to the law enforcement profession.
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