New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced the completion of a $370,000 expansion of the Albany Crime Analysis Center.
The center primarily serves police and prosecutors in Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and most recently Saratoga counties. It's part of a state-supported network of seven crime analysis centers. Expanded hours and services provide real-time support to local law enforcement agencies to help solve, reduce and prevent crime.
Department of Criminal Justice Services Deputy Commissioner Michael Wood says the center is a critical tool that can develop leads in cases, identify suspects and connect crimes that are occurring across jurisdictions. "In the law enforcement culture, it's been a very interesting thing to see. Developing trust, having police officers, investigators, understand the value of what this type of technology and the people that we bring in here, the analysts, and what they can do for them in their cases, and for public safety, frankly, crime prevention and other matters."
Colonie Police Chief John Teale watched a demonstration presented for reporters on the center’s 12-foot wide video wall, where crime mapping technology and public surveillance cameras were used to identify, track, arrest and incarcerate a dangerous individual, as he traveled with his young victim from a downtown Albany bar to an isolated spot in suburban Colonie where he beat and raped her. "To me, the big story here is that you have so many agencies in four counties that are working closely together to help each other solve crimes. A lot of the crime that we see has ties to other jurisdictions."
He adds that data-sharing through a central depository with analysts who can help vet raw video has effectively shortened the crime-solving process.
The Albany Center has roughly tripled the area it serves since it opened seven years ago and now has data sharing agreements with 33 police departments and sheriffs’ offices: nearly all of the agencies in the four-county service area. Outgoing Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox: "They have access to all of our city cameras, so if we have an incident that's going on or if we're running a large scale event, they would have access to our cameras real-time, so we could actually have someone in here watching. We also have portable cameras that we bring out to our events."
Cox notes the portable units can send video back to the command center via wifi. He adds the cameras are all strategically placed on city streets, and one day, perhaps police body cams will be accessible through the system. "This isn't about being big brother. All the cameras are meant to be on the street, and that's what we use those for. All in public places. All where people recognize that there's cameras, in fact."
Other Crime Analysis Centers are located in Broome, Erie, Franklin, Monroe, Niagara and Onondaga counties. Oneida County is scheduled to go live as the eighth center in the network in early 2017.