L.A. Sheriff Tapping Private Surveillance Cameras - GovernmentVideo.com

L.A. Sheriff Tapping Private Surveillance Cameras

Public Safety Online system provides ‘real-time’ intelligence
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To ensure the secure running of the 2011 Ladies Professional Golf Tournament’s Kia Classic held in City of Industry, Calif. from March 21 through 27, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department used a new surveillance system that provides deputies with realtime intelligence, said those involved with the security for the event.

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A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy uses his patrol car’s computer to observe the interior of a business that is part of the Public Safety Online program. Photo by Robin Berger by Robin Berger

Carlos Iribe, director of security for the Pacific Palms Hotel and Conference Center where the tournament was held, said the Kia Classic “is one of the biggest tournaments that we’ve had here in about 25 years.” Therefore, “extra eyes were important.”

To provide adequate surveillance for the star-studded event, the sheriff’s station in City of Industry used its new Public Safety Online (PSO) system which provides real-time intelligence through a combination of live cameras and a secure, web-based database at command centers and in law enforcement vehicles patrolling the area. The PSO enables first responders to view a location before they arrive on the scene and after, according to officials connected to the program.

PSO PERFORMANCE PRAISED

“Other companies had been here (the Pacific Palms) and tried to figure it out, but it didn’t appear that they knew what they were doing,” Iribe said. However, “the equipment that the sheriff’s department was able to provide, the assistance they gave us, and the link to their department was just superb, outstanding,” he said.

This particular set up for the PSO system incorporated about 45 cameras around the resort’s two golf courses, which beamed video of each location to a command center at the sheriff’s station, to a mobile command center located about a mile from the event and to 15 patrol cars. “You never want the command center to be in a location where it becomes involved in the problem,” said sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Kresimir Kovac, who noted the post 9-11 fallout regarding the command center at the base of New York’s Twin Towers. “By integrating the surveillance cameras around the facility to the mobile command center, we were able to have an ‘eyes on the target’ view. We could see what was occurring, and it allowed us to better coordinate the event.”

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The Industry Hills Golf Club where the Kia Classic was held. Photo courtesy of Pacific Palms Hotel and Conference Center In addition to being part of the surveillance operation, Kovac was instrumental in testing the PSO system’s capabilities, installing equipment at the command centers and patrol cars, setting up protocols and training personnel over the past six months. Kovac has experience setting up such systems for he played a key role in initiating the Advanced Surveillance and Protection (ASAP) program—which incorporates advanced technologies (integrated video, acoustic gunshot detection, automated license plate recognition) to deter crime through the collection of video evidence, intelligence gathering, and crime-intervention and prevention initiatives—in the California municipalities of Lynwood and Compton.

In addition to being effective and user-friendly, the PSO can also be a cost cutting proposition for the sheriff’s department to run in City of Industry, which is a predominantly commercial municipality (according to the 2000 census there were more than 2,500 businesses and only 777 residents). How it works is participating businesses supply the cameras and key information about each location, and City of Industry pays the PSO monthly software subscription fees. Because there is a chance the PSO system might be expanded countywide, a successful implementation of the system in City of Industry is important to support the possible expansion, according to officials.

THE APP

A.D. Hall is a retired sheriff’s deputy who worked as the liaison deputy from the sheriff’s department to City of Industry. Hall says in 2006 he was inspired by the “nanny cams” that let parents check on the care of their children over the Internet, which he used as a basis to create the online program at home. To help in the creation of the program, Hall says he hired a graduate from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona to do the programming and design.

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The interior of a restaurant that is part of the ‘Public Safety Online’ program. Photo by A.D. Smith The PSO app appears at www.1020.info and requires a security clearance password to log in. As such, first responders can log into the same secured website, run an address or business name check, and bring up pertinent information for the location to contact key parties in an emergency, Hall says.

PRIVACY RESPECTED

“The officers in the patrol car or at the complaint desk aren’t going to randomly check businesses and homes,” Hall said. “A burglary alarm or somebody reporting suspicious activity would allow them [access] through a confidentiality control factor, using passwords and such, to get into that surveillance mode.”

Currently, about a half-dozen businesses have signed onto the program, and in and effort to attract more businesses to the program, City of Industry’s Industry Manufacturers Council (IMC)—the municipality’s chamber of commerce and public relations firm—offered to provide funds for subscribers’ equipment purchases. The IMC says it will grant up to $500 for the purchase of any equipment required to make a subscriber’s input compatible with the technologies used by the sheriff’s department.

MAKING IT SO

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Donald Sachs, a retired sheriff department sergeant who now serves as the IMC’s executive director, convinced the IMC Board of Directors to give the PSO system a try and then to promote it to City of Industry’s business constituents, Hall said. The timing worked well, as the sheriff’s station there was testing computers in about 30 patrol cars, a project financed by a “productivity investment fund” from the county. By June 2008, the cars were Internet ready to show proof of concept, and about six months later the first PSO prototype was installed for testing.

In addition, as new technology emerges Hall works on evolving the PSO, with a smartphone interface the latest innovation. “You’d have the eyes and ears of the people with cell phones out there to relay information in real time,” he said. “If a traffic collision occurs, for an example, you could get on scene intelligence as well as GPS coordinates to know exactly where it is on a map,” he added.

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