The Guilford County Sheriff’s Department is seeking public support for a new high-tech, camera-based crime system.

 On Wednesday, Aug. 25, the department sent out a press release explaining to media and the public why that is. 

Though at this point the department isn’t giving a price tag for the desired “Real Time Crime Center,” Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers and top department staff say the center would benefit the citizens by speeding up law enforcement reaction times.

A Real Time Crime Center can be thought of as a central hub of video feeds and other intelligence – like the high-tech rooms one sees in movies based on Tom Clancy novels – where officers can, from a central vantage point, collect and analyze a great deal of information from videos and other sources. 

The centers use live camera feeds from public cameras and from privately-owned cameras to see what’s happening in the community and at specific sites where crimes are taking place.

Officers at a center can see these events as they happen.

The center would also let officers watch previously recorded videos relevant to investigations.

One goal, according to the Sheriff’s Department, is to get the information into the hands of deputies on patrol in a matter of minutes rather than hours or days.

“Offenders now have a greater ability to travel from other jurisdictions with ease due to the expansion of the Interstate system,” the press release reads.  “The number of offenders committing crime in Guilford County who are traveling from other counties has grown exponentially.  The ability to identify these suspects and the vehicles in which they travel is very difficult without camera footage.  Utilizing such tools as the Real Time Crime Center is a necessity to assist law enforcement in this manner in today’s climate. The primary mission for Sheriff Rogers and the entire Guilford County Sheriff’s Office is to safeguard lives and property.  He is also very mindful of protecting his deputies and detention officers from false claims.”

Department officials argue that this type of system is needed now more than ever and they report that other places are getting good results.  They claim that, where now in use, the centers have “proven to be a highly effective tool for law enforcement in identifying, apprehending and prosecuting criminals.”

 The cameras would be placed at locations where there are usually a lot of cars, a lot of people or a lot of crime.

The department has already begun research and development but the implementation would have a lot of moving parts – permission from private camera owners and funding from the Guilford County Commissioners.  There will also no doubt be some objections from citizens who don’t like the Big Brother aspect of the innovation in local law enforcement.

Currently, there are Real Time Crime Centers in use in Charlotte, Raleigh, Elizabeth City, Fayetteville, Hickory, Wilmington and Buncombe County (Asheville).