As the weather gets warmer, and the summer tourism and nightlife start up, Baltimore’s mayor and the top police commander are beginning to implement a new strategy to help deter street crime. This new strategy involves using technology to better monitor the streets and get the police officers to the area where a crime is happening as fast as possible. The goal here is to avoid a repeat of the string of unprovoked assaults in the downtown area that happened last year, as well as the kind of unruly youth gatherings that have recently hit other cities.
“I don’t want what’s happening in some other cities, where you have these mobs of young people unfortunately causing havoc in business districts. We can’t afford that. Our tourism industry is too important and our harbor area is too important for our residents,” Baltimore’s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
This new strategy uses the 500 cameras installed around the city to monitor the streets 24/7 for crimes or suspicious activity. The moment any suspicious activity is noticed, the closest officer will be sent out to investigate.
Aside from just putting up cameras, the Baltimore police have also equipped their officers with GPS trackers that report each officer’s location back to the precinct in real-time. The reason behind this is not to spy on the officers, but to help reroute the closest officers to the area of the crime as fast as possible, instead of guessing where the officers might be.
This strategy has already proven effective, as just last Friday one of the cameras caught two men breaking into a car, and the police then used the GPS trackers to send the nearest officers to catch the crooks.
“The cameras are going to beat the cops there, more often than not,” Bealefeld said.”We have these cameras and capable people using them in coordination with officers on the street. We make sure the window of opportunity for that type of shenanigan is really reduced,” Rawlings-Blake said.
The police department is also working on implementing facial recognition software, so that catching and tracking criminals will be easier then ever. The way that the technology works is that when the camera catches a view of a person’s face, it will try to match it up to the face of a suspect who was previously recorded committing a crime in a different location. If there is a match, the closest officers will be alerted and sent out the bring the suspect in.