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Exclusive: Philadelphia Police Utilize Real-Time Crime Fighting

By Elizabeth Hur

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There's a new weapon for the Philadelphia Police Department -- real time crime fighting.

Wednesday night, Eyewitness News got an exclusive inside look at the high-tech crime fighting of the future.

In the name of public safety, Philadelphia is one of about ten cities in the country to create the Real Time Crime Center.

Capt. Joseph McDowell explained, "We are operating 24/7. It's the police department maintaining situational awareness of what is going on in the city so that we can deploy effectively and efficiently."

They do so from a centralized technology center with access to multiple street, crime and septa cameras. So when an emergency call comes into the 911 dispatch center, the Real Time Crime Center gets to work.

"We are pinging away at the databases, trying to find information that may be related to that crime. We're sending it out there as the officers are responding to the crime scene once the detectives get on the scene we'll have more information for them so that they can speed up that investigation," Capt. McDowell said.

Traditionally, Capt. McDowell says the dissemination of information in a best case scenario could take up to six hours, "We are going to shorten that up to within one hour."

Sgt. John Massi added, "Most of our cameras are able to move around."

And that's how the Real Time Crime Center came in handy in a recent robbery at a Septa Subway station at Broad and Snyder. When the report came in, Sgt Massi immediately tapped into the Septa videos system.

Sgt. Massi said, "I saw a victim that appeared to be startled, I then rewound back to see what occurred."

He then spotted a male matching the description of the suspect running out of the station. A further review of the surveillance video resulted in a clear still shot of the suspect which was quickly distributed.

"Based on the video we obtained, patrol officers in the streets saw him walking in a South Philadelphia neighborhood, stopped and arrested him," Sgt. Massi said.

The center in Philadelphia is modeled after the one in New York City which has dubbed itself as a data warehouse. But the vision here is to do more than just share data.

Capt. McDowell explained, "It will also serve as the police department's operation center, a daily watch center and a deconfliction hub. That is to prevent blue on blue encounter. For instance, if one plain clothed unit is going to serve a warrant they're not stepping on another plain clothed unit."

Right now, the center is still a work in progress but is expected to be fully functional within the next year.

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