Watch (Literally Watch) a Surveillance Solution Stop Crime

A crime-crushing wireless surveillance solution helped revitalize a city park.

In 2006, the chief of police in Redlands, Calif., traveled to Israel, where he was impressed by the sophistication of surveillance equipment deployed by Israeli law enforcement.

Upon returning to Redlands, Jim Bueermann, the now retired chief, spearheaded an initiative to outfit his city with wireless surveillance cameras. To do so, he found a partner in Leverage Information Systems, a Woodinville, Wash.-based integrator. The project started with four wireless cameras and it has grown to 130 cameras as of September. As of press time, the city was slated to add another 10 to 15 before the installation of surveillance cameras was considered complete.

At the ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits the Redlands Police Department and Leverage Information Systems agreed the project has been a “smashing success”-not only reducing crime in the city significantly but also improving the quality of life for city residents.

At the invitation of the Security Industry Association (SIA), Ray Leblond, IP surveillance practice manager at Leverage Information Systems, and retired Lt. Russ Dalzell of the Redlands Police Department discussed how Leverage Information Systems and the city of Redlands partnered to make the community a safer place. With wireless cameras mounted throughout the city, the police department was able to provide 24/7 surveillance in previously hard-to-monitor public areas and crack down on nuisance crimes.

The speakers pointed to an increase in law enforcement efficiency, particularly in the open and wooded Prospect Park in Redlands, which to the city is much like New York’s Central Park. Before the widespread adoption of surveillance cameras, the city experienced 354 total law enforcement incidents in the park in May 2009 through April 2010. Of those, 172 required an officer response; 182, intervention by a citizen or ranger; and none of them were observed by a camera operator (as there were not yet cameras).

Prospect Park became a different place with 24/7 surveillance of the public space, according to statistics from May 2010 through April 2011. Law enforcement recorded 573 total incidents. But of those, 99 required an officer response; 115, intervention by a citizen or ranger; and 419 were resolved with assistance of a camera operator. 85 percent of incidents during this period were resolved remotely.

Observing Effect of Surveillance

Although the number of incidents recorded increased during the initial period of surveillance, Leblond and Dalzell pointed to the enhanced ability to detect incidents thanks to use of the cameras. They also noted far fewer incidents required law enforcement officers be present to resolve them.

Leblond and Dalzell shared short segments of actual video provided by the city of Redlands to participants at a SIA Education session. In one video, a group of young men gathered at night under a light in Prospect Park, unaware a surveillance camera was trained directly on them. A camera operator addressed the gathering through a one-way speaker system in the camera network. Clearly surprised, the young men bolted like frightened rabbits in completely different directions.

Leblond emphasized a number of benefits from successful city-wide surveillance, including increasing law enforcement efficiency, fighting criminal activity, improving quality of life, enhancing the school safety environment, initiating citizen involvement, seeking business community input and improving inter-agency workflow.

In addition, the Redlands Police Department and Leverage Information Systems were able to install the city-wide surveillance system entirely through the use of private funding and grant awards. They used no money from the city’s general fund for the project, thus providing an added benefit to taxpayers.

Today, surveillance has virtually eliminated crime in the city parks, Leblond and Dalzell said. A smashing success, indeed!

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