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Who’s monitoring cameras in the sky? Sacramento police unveil ‘real-time’ hub

See what's behind the police eyes in the sky

The Sacramento Police Department gave reporters a look at its "real time crime center." The center pulls in video feeds from across the city.
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The Sacramento Police Department gave reporters a look at its "real time crime center." The center pulls in video feeds from across the city.

Eighteen video feeds of intersections across Sacramento fill the video wall in the Sacramento Police Department’s “real-time crime center.”

Those are just SPD cameras – on the other side of the room, a bank of TV screens displays Regional Transit’s camera feeds of light-rail tracks. Sacramento police unveiled their $500,000 experiment in technology-aided police work Tuesday. The center has been in use since June, but the department had some kinks to work out before unveiling it to the public, officials said.

Chief Sam Somers Jr., who will leave his post at the end of the week, said the center is the cornerstone of a technology push he’s been working for since he assumed his position in 2013. He said the department has incorporated “the latest, greatest” technologies in police vehicles, installed Police Observation Device cameras at city intersections to detect stolen vehicles and added ShotSpotter microphones to alert officers to gunshots.

“One of the biggest things that we’re trying to get out of this is that we want to send a message,” Somers said. “We want to send a message to our city that we’re serious about making Sacramento the safest big city in California. Criminals need to think twice if they’re going to come to Sacramento and commit a crime.”

The center receives data from PODs, Golden 1 Center and Caltrans cameras, GPS coordinates from patrol vehicles and radio activity. All in all, images from more than 100 cameras are fed into the room, said Sgt. Marnie Stigerts, who manages the real-time crime center.

Currently staffed with three officers, the department intends for the center to eventually operate 24/7. It is in a Police Department building on Richards Boulevard. The Regional Transit command center shares a room with the real-time center, allowing for better collaboration.

Stigerts said rank-and-file officers have embraced the center.

“I think that (officers on the street) appreciate it, they enjoy it,” Stigerts said. “There’s still some wonder about the real-time crime center.”

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

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