HPD's High-tech center helping solve crimes

September 2, 2010 4:43:30 PM PDT
From murders to rapes, robberies and assaults, crime in Houston is down; that even includes property crime. It's hard to say exactly why, but we're putting HPD's high-tech crime analysis "In Focus." As Eyewitness News was learning about a father who allegedly shot his wife and daughter back in February, the suspected killer was racing out of town with his allegedly kidnapped 2-year-old son in the back seat.

"I saw her laying there and him going away, and I was like oh my God," witness Leo Warden told ABC13 shortly after the shooting.

Warden said he then saw the guy walking right around the corner.

"When things are unfolding so quick, you're really not putting things together," he said during a recent interview with Eyewitness News.

But minutes after the shooting, HPD was putting things together.

"They're constantly monitoring calls for service," said Lt. Terry Horton with HPD's Real Time Crime Center.

Inside the department's Real Time Crime Center, analysts are here 24-7.

"It doesn't get any more real time than a homicide investigation," Horton said.

On February 4, one of the analysts saw the murder call drop, cross referenced the murder scene's address with information on the suspect.

Analysts used that to get the OnStar in his car activated, send cars to track him down and arrest him in Wharton within two hours of the shooting.

"Fantastic, that's pretty good police work as far as I am concerned," Warden said.

That case is awaiting trial, but across HPD the department is using similar techniques to fight crime every day.

At the start of every shift, officers not only hear overnight crime statistics, but see where crooks were working in the very hours before they came on duty.

It's how Sgt. Dave Runyan knew to be in this parking lot off Memorial Drive, where car break-ins have been rampant in recent days.

None of it can predict when crooks will strike next or exactly where, but HPD does give it credit for dropping some key crime stats in the first half of the year.

"It puts it on an officer's mind that there is a trend there that they may've been thinking about," Runyan said.

The program's been in effect for about two years, but officers tell us the data has gotten far more reliable and up-to-date in recent months. Additionally, HPD Chief Charles McClelland says it's a good way for the city to save money, since it allows the department to deploy officers in a smarter way.

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