Proposal to bring pilot program for Real Time Crime Centers to Jacksonville

An Action News Jax investigation uncovered a proposal between Motorola and the city of Jacksonville, dated July 23, to begin a pilot program for Real Time Crime Centers. The pilot program could begin in the next six to eight weeks.

Sheriff Mike Williams discussed the technology after Thursday's budget hearing with the City Council's Finance Committee. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's requests for additional officers and new technology were given the green light.

"Incredibly powerful," said Williams. "And you talk about situational awareness, there is no better."

The sheriff says the ability to analyze crime data in real time could keep everyone involved in emergency responses safer.

The city has the option to purchase the equipment after the test run. The proposed city budget has allotted $1.625 million for the technology and about $280,000 for the hiring of four data analysts.

The technology is called 'CommandCentral Aware' and brings together the city's existing technologies, like ShotSpotter and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), with maps and BriefCam surveillance video.

These 'data silos,' as described by Motorola, will be combined into one system that's readily available for investigators.

ShotSpotter alerts police to the sound of gunfire. BriefCam allows police to sift through hours of video in a matter of minutes. Searching for surveillance footage could be as easy as entering a few keywords: for example, 'red car.'

“The system is smart and watching it for you," said Sheriff Williams. "And it’s going to pull out what you ask it to pull up.”

Data analysts will be able to feed information to first responders in real time. The proposal states it would increase the situational awareness of first responders, meaning they'll have a better idea of what they're going to face in the field.

Motorola anticipates some incidents could be avoided with the use of this technology, and JSO will be able to close some crimes sooner than they would otherwise.

Some, like Molly Brady, don't believe new technology, coupled with more officers, would prevent violent crimes in the city.

"Actually," said Brady. "I don’t think more and more enforcement is what the answer is." Brady would rather see money invested in programs designed to reduce recidivism rates.

Williams admitted it's too early to tell if the system would live up to its potential, but says its successful use in other parts of the country, like New Orleans, gives him hope it could work here.

If the mayor's budget is ultimately approved and the city decides to retain the technology, it could be rolled out in phases over the next few years.