New Ogden crime center watches for trouble

Jul 19 2011 - 10:59pm

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(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) The Real Time Crime Center was unveiled Tuesday at the Ogden Police Station. Dave Weloth, center director, says the new technology will help officers become more proactive in dealing with crime among Ogden’s population of nearly 83,000 residents.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner demonstrates some of the capabilities of the new Real Time Crime Center at the Ogden Police Department on Tuesday.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Dave Weloth (left) talks to Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey about the new Real Time Crime Center at the Ogden Police Department on Tuesday.  Godfrey says the center is one of nine now in operation throughout the country but the only one in a city of less than 250,000 population.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) The Real Time Crime Center was unveiled Tuesday at the Ogden Police Station. Dave Weloth, center director, says the new technology will help officers become more proactive in dealing with crime among Ogden’s population of nearly 83,000 residents.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner demonstrates some of the capabilities of the new Real Time Crime Center at the Ogden Police Department on Tuesday.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Dave Weloth (left) talks to Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey about the new Real Time Crime Center at the Ogden Police Department on Tuesday.  Godfrey says the center is one of nine now in operation throughout the country but the only one in a city of less than 250,000 population.

OGDEN -- The Real Time Crime Center debuted Tuesday at the Ogden Police Station, designed to help officers use technology to cut crime in the city.

"The message is, you can run, but you can't hide in the city of Ogden," Ogden Police Chief Jon J. Greiner said at an open house for the center.

Mayor Matthew Godfrey said the center is one of nine now in operation throughout the country but the only one in a city of less than 250,000 population.

He said Ogden's population is nearly 83,000.

The new center features a host of state-of-the-art computer programs that allow officers to combine statistical information, such as where crimes occur and where parolees live, to pinpoint areas of highest crime-prevention priority.

Greiner showed a map on a video screen where areas that house high concentrations of parolees were highlighted in red.

"We're going to go out and interact with our parolee population," said Dave Weloth, center director, explaining that the new technology would help police become more proactive.

"It gives us more ways to approach a problem."

Officials said statistical information also can help in other situations.

Greiner said officers used the programs Monday to help find a rape victim from 14 years ago and, therefore, were able to detain a suspect they had arrested for another reason.

"If traditional methods had been used, there's a chance this person would have gone free," Weloth said.

The Ogden center also ties in to 200 surveillance cameras throughout the city to give police real-time views of what is happening.

Greiner demonstrated how center officers can change positions on any of the cameras to help give officers on the ground better information at a crime scene.

"We can literally ... walk around the neighborhood and see," he said. "I can give this information to the officer on the scene."

Greiner said the cameras are not designed to intrude upon people in their private residences or businesses.

"We're not Big Brother," he said. "I want to emphasize, we are not Big Brother."

Greiner could not give the exact cost of building the center that will be manned 16 hours a day and on standby status the other eight hours.

But he said it was in the low tens of thousands of dollars because Ogden police did not have to pay for the software, only the hardware and large-screen monitors as well as a small remodel to create a room for the center.

"We are offering them the opportunity to beta test their software in our facility for free," he said of the developers of the advanced computer programs the department now is using.

Much of the technology for the center was developed by John Harvey, who has acted as a consultant to the department for the past year as the facility was developed.

Harvey, a retired 31-year deputy from Memphis, Tenn., owns W.S. Data Team, which creates technological tools to help officers by combining crime statistics.

"The underlying concept is, the past is the best predictor of the future," Harvey said. "People who have committed crimes have a tendency to continue to commit crimes."

Greiner also showed a video about a crime-fighting blimp that soon will collect aerial information for police.

At a cost of less than $2,000 a year to operate, Greiner said, the blimp will give Ogden officers a view that traditionally has been very expensive to obtain.

Greiner said he expects to have the $15,000, 52-foot-long blimp up and running in a few months after the department works out details with the FAA.

Ogden will become the first city to use a blimp of this type, which was developed by a Weber State University professor, Greiner said.

He also showed a car equipped with a license plate reader capable of scanning the plates of cars to notify the department of which vehicles are registered to people who have criminal backgrounds or warrants out for their arrest.

Harvey said he developed a way for scanners in these vehicles to convert license plate information into computer data that could be compared to many lists of information about crimes and criminals.

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