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How new surveillance technology in Detroit helped lead to a 50% drop in violent crime

In 2012, Detroit’s crime rate had grown higher than it had been in 20 years. Hit hard by recession, the city seemed unable to recover. When Police Chief James Craig arrived in 2013 to help improve relations between the disparaged police force and the Detroit area citizens, he encountered outdated tools and systems that needed immediate attention.

Chief Craig quickly set out to improve the force through a multi-faceted vision. In addition to building on traditional tactics, he began to explore new technologies that would give the department advanced capabilities and help drive real change in the community.

By looking closely at data available about crime in the city, Chief Craig identified some clear trends. The data showed that almost 25 percent of violent crime was happening within 500 feet of gas stations, so making gas stations safe provided an opportunity to address a number of problems at once.

Chief Craig’s next step was to deploy high-definition cameras throughout the city. He also set out to build a Real-Time Crime Center (RTCC) revolving around four CommandCentral Aware positions. These would serve as a central command for the new initiative known as Project Green Light.

Redefining real-time

Launched in January 2016 with eight pilot gas stations, Project Green Light is the first initiative of its kind. In addition to high definition cameras, each station was equipped with signage and green beacon lights under station canopies to signify that the station participates in the program.

Using Motorola Solutions’ technology, the participating stations transmit their video feeds to the Detroit Police Department’s RTCC, where personnel use CommandCentral Aware to monitor the video streams and virtually patrol crime hotspots.

CommandCentral Aware also provides a way for analysts to see incidents from the Detroit Police Department’s Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system plotted on a map and correlated with officer and camera locations. It  gives those in the RTCC the ability to provide eyes-on-scene support, viewing activities as they transpire and simultaneously communicating with those in the field. They can notify officers over radio, about what’s happening, communicating specifics about the location and suspects involved to help make better decisions about how to approach each situation.

Better, faster response

With the help of this new technology, the team gained the ability to catch criminals by creating a “virtual patrol” that officers in the field could rely on. For example, they could identify suspects selling narcotics, relay that information to officers in the field, and also provide the actual video and pictures of the activity in progress.

As noted by Chief Craig, this virtual patrolling has given his department an edge. Unlike traditional patrols that are random, the RTCC gives officers an opportunity to be very strategic, looking at crime trends and patterns and then scanning the problematic areas more thoroughly.

“When you see an emerging situation,” said Chief Craig, “You can then notify units on the ground to respond quickly and stop what could be happening. That’s the future of policing.

Project Green Light at-a-glance

Detroit’s Project Green Light is a sophisticated project that relies on the basics of good technology, public-private partnerships, community policing, and awareness. Through the implementation of this project, Detroit has successfully accomplished the following:

  • Identified the areas of highest crime where their program would have the most impact through historical crime analysis
  • Launched pilot programs in partnership with local businesses, community groups, and leaders to build awareness and get buy-in
  • Outfitted the RTCC with the tools needed including CommandCentral Aware
  • Trained officers and staff inside and outside of the RTCC so that they could understand the value the new tools would bring to their everyday approach to public safety

Most notably, as a direct result of these accomplishments and the use of Motorola Solutions’ CommandCentral Aware in Project Green Light, the city has experienced a 50% DROP IN VIOLENT CRIME at the eight pilot locations.

You can find out more about Detroit’s Project Green Light and the technology described above by visiting www.motorolasolutions.com/detroit.

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