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Data and surveillance reduce crime~ RH October, 5 2015

Data and surveillance reduce crime


By Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli
Staff Writer | October 05, 2015

Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo Schenectady Police Chief Brian Kilcullen explains how the city’s surveillance camera system has been effective in catching numerous criminals.
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — There’s a web of 160 wireless surveillance cameras over the hottest crime areas in Schenectady, N.Y. Most are high definition. Some rotate, some are fixed on one location.

Back in 2004, with a small grant and one camera, the city began its surveillance program with an investigator from the district attorney’s office at the helm. Today, it is a $2.5 million system.

“We only used $250,000 of city funds,” Schenectady Police Chief Brian A. Kilcullen said. “We got grants, private funding and built the system.”

Kilcullen, who will take over as Rutland’s police chief in November, credits quick response times by police to the cameras.

“We had a homicide suspect in custody in six minutes,” he said. “We watched him enter a street with the gun, and then we saw him leave without the gun. So we knew exactly where to look for it … There was a bank robbery and we knew the vehicle and we followed the vehicle throughout the city.”

According to Rick Voris, the district attorney’s investigator who runs the surveillance program, the expansion would not have been possible without Kilcullen’s support and the partnerships he helped build.

“Because of him, it has really grown. We had the project before he was chief, but with his being chief, he brought the cameras to a new level,” Voris said. “His support helped us grow and not get stagnant. I will miss him dearly.”

Voris said there is a wireless mesh network over the city’s high-crime areas and that makes it easier to prosecute cases.

But mapping the hot spots is key to their overall success, according to Kilcullen, who said they have been tracking crime by address, time of day, and motor vehicle crashes since 2012.

He said a reduction in violent crime this year is tied to identifying these hot spots.

“Our overall crime rate is down 30 percent,” Kilcullen said. “Our shooting incidents are up 23 percent this year, but our overall violent crimes are still down 18 percent.”

In Rutland, the city police began a data-mapping initiative this year and just opened a searchable data portal for the pubic.



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