FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office now has access to hundreds of cameras around the county, all feeding live into the new Real Time Crime Center at the sheriff’s office headquarters.
Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Division Chief Paul Bovino said the video feeds come from schools, intersections, beaches, parks, license plate readers, doorbell cameras and even home and business surveillance systems.
“It’s a nationwide trend in providing up-to-date information and investigative assistance to officers and investigators and deputies in the field,” Bovino said.
When a crime has occurred or is occurring, the two crime analysts working in the Real Time Crime Center punch up cameras at or near the area.
Their response to the crime -- sending patrol deputies, SWAT, bomb squad, paramedics, firefighters or anyone else -- is immediate and tailored largely depending on what they see on the cameras.
“We can rescue missing people faster, we can find violent criminals faster, we can find abduction suspects faster,” Bovino said.
At the same time, the crime analysts are digging into public records, court records, criminal histories, DMV records, even social media and relaying that information to deputies on the road.
“The analyst can get them updated information,” Bovino said. “From live cameras feeds to complaints, backgrounds and criminal histories, they give all that information to responding deputies in the field to allow them to make better decisions, catch criminals faster and possibly save people’s lives even quicker.”
License plate readers that ping when they detect a stolen or wanted license plate allow analysts to utilize cameras in the area to see where the car is going.
And detectives visit the Real Time Crime Center on a daily basis to gather information on crimes that happened and generate leads, Bovino said.
Some homeowners and businesses with surveillance camera systems have volunteered to stream their video feeds directly to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
“If we have the information and start looking for them across our camera bases, across our different technology bases, the chances of of us finding someone would be greatly improved versus just driving around looking for them with no knowledge,” Bovino said.
Bovino said the feeds are never monitored unless a crime has occurred or is occurring.
“I can promise the citizens of Flagler County we don’t have the time or resources to watch everyone in Flagler County,” Bovino said. “We’re using the cameras, the live feeds, when there’s a crime in progress or assisting officers looking for a potential suspect in a crime.”
Sheriff Rick Staly said the new Real Time Crime Center is another unbiased policing tool.
“Our goal is to catch criminals, we don’t care what color they are or what sex they are,” Staly said. “And in fact when we get a hit, all we know is there’s a hit on that vehicle based on that license plate. We have no clue who was inside the vehicle at that point. There’s no bias in the Real Time Crime Center because we’re only looking for criminals that are involved in a crime that has been reported to us, like an active incident or crime after the fact.”
Bovino said detectives looking for car thieves recently pored through the feeds and discovered the two stolen cars speeding away through an intersection in the middle of the night followed by a third car. Using the license plate on the third car, crime analysts led detectives to the suspected car thieves from Jacksonville and arrested them.
“Most of everything we monitor here is based on entries strictly made into the state system, whether it be for wanted suspects, felony suspects, stolen items,” Bovino said. “We’re not looking for anyone based on race, color or creed. We’re looking for people based on are they a victim or a suspect in a crime here.”