New crime fighting equipment for HPD

January 16, 2008 4:20:31 PM PST
Cutting-edge technology is coming to a police cruiser near you. The Houston Police Department is taking new steps to keep you -- and Houston's streets -- safer.The technology is similar to our Crime Tracker. It plots trends in crime around the city and gives officers instant information to help them do their job better.

It's called the Real-Time Crime Center. Both Mayor Bill White and Chief Harold Hurtt are true believers in this technology. While it won't free up more officers to patrol the streets, it will give the officers who are, all the information they need at their disposal.

When a Houston police officer is dispatched to a scene, he or she is typically armed with very little information. A new system -- set to come on line next month - will not only change that, the hope is it will revolutionize crime fighting in Houston altogether.

Chief Hurtt said, "This will mean better law enforcement, more effective law enforcement."

Nearly $3 million worth of computer software will enhance communication between patrol and investigative units, provide beat officers with real time crime data, along with the critical information they need when responding to a call. They'll have everything from suspect information to a history of criminal activity in a neighborhood all at their disposal.

"It's not a substitute for having an officer respond, but it will help us manage the system better and help catch the bad guys," explained Mayor White.

Houston police will use a process called geocoding, similar to what we been using with our exclusive Crime Tracker since early 2006. That's taking a address and plotting its exact location with pinpoint accuracy. Once the location is mapped, police can easily call up other recent crimes in a particular area.

"Not give officers information that's a day old, but give them information and analysis of the situation that occurred in seconds, minutes, and hours," Chief Hurtt said.

Eventually, police plan to use this technology to help them predict where violent criminals might strike next and whether particular crimes are part of a trend or pattern. The center will be fully operational by summer.

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