As the Ogden, Utah Police Department prepares to launch its lighter-than-air surveillance aircraft—known as the “crime blimp”—it is also building a “real time” crime center that will integrate security cameras from private businesses and government buildings.
Currently, 180 cameras keep an eye on the city of Ogden as officers watch the footage from a room inside police headquarters, and soon officers could have access to hundreds of additional cameras, says Ogden Police Chief John Greiner.
In addition, to the existing cameras and video from the crime blimp, Greiner says he’s working with the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Transit Authority to provide feeds from their cameras to the new crime center. In addition, business owners who have outside cameras are going to be asked to allow police access to those cameras.
Surveillance cameras have been deployed in Ogden for years, Greiner said. “This is just finding a way to use them a little better,” he added.
Police say the purpose of the crime center is to consolidate its databases so that information such as warrants and driver’s licenses would be immediately accessible to the person manning the center. That person would then send the information to officers responding to crime scenes.
That is what a real-time crime center is all about, hooking databases together and making things available for the officer in the field, Greiner said.
About 20 U.S. cities have crime centers, and Ogden’s center is modeled after a crime center in Memphis, Tenn.
The idea that the cameras can help solve crimes appeals to some members of Ogden’s business community such as John Graves, the owner of Red Duck Enterprises in Ogden. If petty criminals can feel intimidated by the presence of surveillance cameras, “that’d be great,” he said. However, Graves added, he needs to “feel comfortable” that the level of surveillance is not invading privacy too much.