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Back to Archives | Back to May 2009 Contents 

Where do the good ideas come from? In this column, we offer our readers the opportunity to learn about — and benefit from — some of the cutting-edge technologies being implemented by law enforcement colleagues around the world.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Stay Informed with Video Observation Center

Thanks to a network of more than 150 cameras posted at intersections throughout the city, the Charlotte, North Carolina, Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) can see real-time traffic problems and criminal activity, saving valuable time in dispatching police officers and emergency crews to the scenes.

The video network system, which has the capacity for up to 512 cameras, affords CMPD officers in the Video Observation Center the chance to catch criminals in the commission of crimes and provides video evidence of those crimes, said Officer Craig Allen of the CMPD. The camera feeds are recorded, which gives officers the ability to review archived video. The system also gives incident commanders the ability to assess crowd and traffic issues at large-scale events in a matter of seconds.

The CMPD and the CDOT view the feeds via multiple 40-inch LCD monitors and seven Christie digital projectors, said Joe Semmelmann, account representative with ClarkPowell, the professional audio/video systems integrator that designed and integrated the Network Operations Centers for both departments.

The original systems were intended for facilitating traffic flow through construction areas, but it did not take long for the CDOT and the CMPD to see the advantages of expanding the system. The CMPD built its own Network Operations Center but still has the capability to view, from the central CDOT router, multiple feeds projected onto seven large screens. Multiple conference rooms and dispatch centers are also linked to the CMPD router. In 2008, the seven projectors at the CMPD center were replaced with Christie Digital models that are rated for 24/7 use and have higher resolution.

The system has made a huge difference in the department. Allen said, “The video network system has been used in over 300 arrests, including bank robbery, numerous foot pursuits, and larceny of auto, to name a few. The video system is like having many watchful eyes in areas that may go unnoticed by the average person.”

For more information, click here, and enter number 32.

Colorado Investigators Nab Child Predators by Monitoring Cell Phone Activity

eAgency, Inc., announces that a Colorado law enforcement agency used the company’s My Mobile Watchdog product to capture 40 child predators over just 89 days of investigation—an average of one predator for every two days of work.

According to Mike Harris, senior investigator in the Child Sex Offender Internet Investigations (CSOII) Unit of the Jefferson County, Colorado, District Attorney’s Office, several of the cases required only two to three hours of My Mobile Watchdog use to gather the necessary evidence. Jefferson County investigators are among the heaviest law enforcement users of this software, which monitors and tracks cell phone contacts and activities of, as well as threats to, children.

Overall, My Mobile Watchdog gave Jefferson County investigators the hard evidence necessary to improve enforcement efforts and conviction rates significantly. Of the 40 arrests, 38 were of individuals with no known prior record for sex offenses, and 5 of the 40 pleaded guilty—a record rate for guilty pleas within the unit.

“Predators are smart. Law enforcement has to not only be smarter, but also be able to prove it in court,” commented Harris. “After investigating Internet child predators for over twelve years, I’ve experienced just how difficult—and heartbreaking—it can be to the victims when we can’t keep up with these criminals. My Mobile Watchdog actually lets us walk into court with very damning evidence of the crime.”

Available over the Internet using a standard Web browser, My Mobile Watchdog’s online management tools can monitor, and report to local agencies, any inappropriate contact with children. The technology monitors all inbound and outbound cell phone activity, immediately notifying authorities if a child receives an unwanted or suspicious call, e-mail, text message, or instant message.

For more information, click here, and enter number 33.

Force 911 Helps Georgia Sheriff’s Department Implement Propane Hybrid Vehicle Conversion

Jackson County, Georgia, Sheriff Stan E. Evans announced at a press conference that the department has begun conversion of its patrol cars to a hybrid propane fuel system. The county has fully converted 9 patrol cars and intends to convert an additional 16 vehicles.

In the press conference, Sheriff Evans stated that the department reviewed alternative fuels such as propane (LPG) and natural gas (CNG) as a way to reduce gasoline expense. According to Sheriff Evans, “When we first started this process, we considered natural gas but learned that there were issues with performance such as acceleration and power.” Sheriff Evans discussed the benefits of propane, adding, “The price of propane is less than regular unleaded fuel and we receive a 50 cent per gallon rebate from the government for using alternative fuel. Jackson County was able to purchase the propane systems on seized drug funds, meaning no taxpayer money was used in the vehicle conversions.”

The hybrid propane system is supplied by American Alternative Fuel of Castleton, New York. The propane conversion kit is designed so that each vehicle has two independent fuel systems. With a hybrid propane system, a vehicle starts on gasoline every time, then builds temperature and switches to LPG within approximately a minute. The driver is able to run the car to empty on LPG, and the vehicle will signal that it is automatically switching back to gasoline.

The time to fuel hybrid propane vehicles is substantially less than those using natural gas. Fueling stations operate in the same manner as traditional gas pumps. Each vehicle has a separate propane fuel cap for filling the propane tank. Force 911 provides installation of hybrid propane fuel systems and will work with Jackson County on outfitting additional vehicles with the propane system. ■

For more information, click here, and enter number 34.



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVI, no. 5, May 2009. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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