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Broward Sheriff's Office Reveals New Real Time Crime Center For Safer Schools

FOR LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – When Broward County Public School students, teachers, and staff head back to school Wednesday, there will be added security thanks to the Broward Sheriff's Office Real Time Crime Center (RTCC).

"The success we can have if we start putting Broward County first." Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said during a news conference.

The RTCC allows for real-time monitoring and analysis of important investigative information during a critical incident, according to BSO.

The collaboration with Broward County Public Schools provides BSO direct access to video surveillance systems, monitoring nearly 10,000 cameras in more than 260 public school and administrative buildings.

"This partnership is about collaboration. It's about leveraging technology that we have in the district and it's about leadership," Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

The RTCC has two major functions: 1) to provide a "strategic command and control capability" to assist all Broward County law enforcement officers with active crimes and cases in progress and 2) to provide an "intelligence capability" that is constantly identifying persons of interest who may commit, or have committed, crimes against Broward County residents.

The high-tech room carried up to a $2 million price tag.

BSO Real Time Crime Center
BSO Real Time Crime Center (CBS4)

"It was a matter of reallocating funding and putting it into use in an appropriate fashion, the sheriff said.

The RTCC was originally housed in a 350 square foot office space near the Sheriff's Emergency Operation Center at the Public Safety Building. The new RTCC will operate in a 2,600 square foot area at BSO's headquarters.

Since January, the RTCC has conducted 140 drills within Broward County Public Schools to test the camera system.

RTCC personnel have also monitored and given tactical guidance to officers at the scene of 142 real-life incidents within the schools, including lockdowns for crimes happening on and off school property.

The superintendent wants parents to know more cameras are on the way.

"We are adding another 2,500 cameras," said Runcie. "Some of them, with some advanced capabilities so detect all types of motion."

The district is not just leaning on help from BSO keeping students safe. The superintendent is working to expand security staff.

"Additional security staff, we will be at a point where we are investing $53 million in security staff," Runcie said.

Now, the goal is to open this up for houses of worship and even businesses. That if religious leaders and business owners want to and they will then sign a mutual aid agreement.

"Rather than wait, we are going to take more proactive steps to start getting out there," said Sheriff Tony.

The RTCC already has access to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

There's more to safety than just surveillance cameras. The Broward League of Cities, which is a group that makes recommendations for better safety measures, says more should be done about mental health.

"The task force calls for more investments for school physiologists, social workers, mental health counselors, and other practitioners throughout the county for each and every school," a group member said.

Improvements to mental health was mentioned in a report released Tuesday. It's an update from the original report released June 2018.

It applauded the school district for completing a plan to make sure a school resource officer or armed guardian is at every school.

But the group wants to see a way to find only law enforcement, instead of guardians.

The group also has advice for state lawmakers.

"There's a glaring and dangerous loophole the Florida legislature must address," a group spokesperson said.

They want universal mandatory background checks when selling all firearms. That's so a seller will know if someone has a risk protection order. The RPO is meant to keep a gun out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

"Because background checks are not mandatory for private sales, if it's not involving a licensed gun dealer, the background check will not catch a Risk Protection Order," a task force member said.

For more information on the BSO RTCC, click here.

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