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LCSO Debuts 'Real Time Crime Center,' Allowing Analysts To Monitor Video Feeds Across County

Ryan Dailey

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office is harnessing new technology to provide more information its deputies and detectives responding to scenes. Sheriff Walt McNeil debuted LCSO’s new Real Time Crime Center Wednesday.

Through a $70,000 federal grant, new software and a room full of monitors are powering analysts with information they can feed to deputies in the field. McNeil says deputies and analysts have already put the new technology to work.

“During a string of commercial robberies on the North Side of Tallahassee, members of the Real Time Crime Center were able to data mine and locate a vehicle of interest, by using our field information reports,” McNeil said.

In the Center, analysts can call up a collection of video feeds from camera systems around town. Those systems include ones at traffic lights, feeds from the County Detention Center, cameras on Leon school campuses and local universities.

Leslie Rabon, the Sheriff’s Office’s longest-tenured analyst, gave a rundown of all the information the agency can access with the new software.

“In here, we can see every call for service that a deputy is on,” Rabon said. “We also have the ability to see Fire, EMS, as well as the Tallahassee Police Department calls for service.”

The software also uses facial recognition based on surveillance footage, and it can match license plate numbers to records based on traffic cameras. LCSO is also able to access case reports and booking photos from agencies around the country instantly.

One of the more unique features is the ability to access certain residential video feeds, from homes that have the Ring Video Doorbell.

“So in the comment section, the citizen posted that this guy followed a UPS truck, got out, noticed the package, looked around and then left,” Rabon said, describing a video sent in from a concerned citizen.

Users of the Ring Doorbell app can opt in to share and send home surveillance footage to law enforcement. Rabon says if a crime happens in a particular area, officials can contact residents through the Ring app to ask if anyone captured video of a suspect. Chief Chris Summers says analysts can also monitor social media posts real-time that may give deputies an advantage.

“Having the ability for someone to be focused on doing these deep data dives, it gives the ability for officer safety, deputy safety to increase,” Summers told reporters. “Because, not only are we thinking about critical incidents – we’re thinking about some of these other calls for service that might be looked at as routine.”

The Sheriff’s Office says the center can be particularly useful during big events like college football games, and was already used to monitor areas during election night this month.

Sheriff McNeil hopes to enhance staffing and equipment in the Center going forward.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.