BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Birmingham Police are calling the soon-to-be-launched Real Time Crime Center, a game-changing crime-fighting tool. In a one-on-one interview with Chief Patrick Smith, I learned that BPD is already crediting the crime center with a narcotics bust, even before the system has gone live for everyday use.
Right now in the closely guarded locked doors of room 310, at Birmingham Police Headquarters, six officers are undergoing training. We got an exclusive look at how the operations are going and how the system links all of BPD’s technology under one roof to the units working the streets. “That’s technology from our shot spotter, to our Alabama power cameras, our license plate readers.” according to Chief Patrick Smith.
Back in March of 2019, we got the first look at the gutted space inside headquarters set aside for the building of the real-time crime center. And now, more than two years later, we were allowed inside the training room. Corporal Robert Conner says the crime center is the talk of the force. “Every officer that we’ve talked to is just curious and engaged and we tell them all the time this is going to be a game-changer.”
“While getting familiar with the surveillance camera equipment two weeks ago, the trainees spotted some illegal drug activity and informed patrol officers. “They ended up with I believe three felony arrests, eight misdemeanor arrests, three vehicles towed, four firearms taken and several, several narcotics,” said Corporal Conner.
Chief Smith said it all works because the technology is linked including updated taser devices and officer body-worn cameras that they can remotely turn on and turn off. They can use those cameras to put up a “geofence” around major incidents.
The Real Time Crime Center was supposed to be in operation this month, but Chief Smith said the pandemic caused delays to construction. It is now set to be launched sometime in September.