While reaching a record-breaking 47% crime reduction in Flagler County over the past three and a half years, Sheriff Rick Staly and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) have not lost momentum and continue to leverage technology to keep residents, visitors, and first responders safe.
The Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) is helping to do just that. Even during a pandemic and while temporarily working out of temporary space, FCSO has implemented cutting-edge technology that allows for fighting crime in real time. Watch a brief introduction here: YouTube (below).
The RTCC deploys a host of advanced technologies to provide critical information to first responders in the field, including camera systems, crime databases, and license plate reader technology. The RTCC also has real-time access to all public school cameras in the district if a serious incident or threat to a school is detected. School cameras are not monitored and are only accessed in the event of an active investigation or threat. All of these tools can assist with investigations of criminal activity or quality of life concerns.
When an emergency call for service comes into the 9-1-1 center, crime analysts immediately pull up any camera feeds in the area to aid responding deputies and detectives in their investigation. The RTCC provides real time and investigative information for deputies responding to a crime, traffic information for emergency vehicles during special events, situational awareness and investigative information during life-threatening emergencies, real-time information on hazards during storms, and much more. Recently, two potential Silver Alert cases were solved with the use of license plate reader technology and the missing persons were found safely before a missing person’s report was even filed.
“The RTCC using this technology truly allows us to strategically use available resources better, apprehend criminals faster and prevent crime by apprehending offenders before they can commit additional crimes,” says Sheriff Staly. “The vision and implementation of the RTCC had been delayed because we did not have adequate space in our temporary office space in the courthouse but with the assistance of Clerk of the Court Tom Bexley we were able to obtain sufficient space to implement the RTCC.”
The RTCC is currently staffed by two full-time crime analysts, with a position for a third analyst recently approved by Sheriff Staly. Detectives utilize the RTCC on a daily basis to follow up on cases and use the camera feeds available to strengthen their investigation.
Personal home or business surveillance systems, such as RING or business cameras, can be resources for the RTCC by owners joining the FCSO Silent Guardians program. Joining the Silent Guardians only requires that you fill out an online form letting the FCSO know where the camera is located, what street or cross-streets the camera views and how to contact the camera owner in case of a crime in the area.
Joining the Silent Guardians program does NOT give FCSO direct access to the surveillance footage. It simply tells FCSO that footage may be available in the event of an emergency. Camera feeds in the RTCC are not monitored around the clock. The camera feeds are utilized only in the event of an emergency, a crime, or other event.
“It is not the design or the intention of the RTCC to be a monitoring station for surveillance videos or to be ‘Big Brother’ to our community. Our mission is to help support and direct deputies in the field to make them more effective and to enhance their ability to protect the public,” Investigative Services Division Chief Paul Bovino said. “We are only using the cameras in live-feed mode when we are alerted to a crime in progress or if we are assisting a Deputy that is looking for a potential suspect, missing person or a victim.”
Researchers have found that using Real Time Crime Centers by law enforcement agencies are associated with statistically significant reductions in some types of crimes, including robberies and burglaries. (https://www.rand.org/news/press/2019/12/04.html)