KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Osceola Sheriff’s Office crime analyst supervisor Donna Sita described the Real-Time Crime Center (RTCC), first introduced in September, as a technology-filled room where she and several other analysts are “researching the past while watching the present and bringing them together.”
The six huge TV panels and dozens of computer monitors are situated in front of the most important part — the human analysts, who process an unfolding situation as it’s happening, digging into who, what, where and how as they’re directing deputies to respond with precision.
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The TV panels can be programmed to view a countywide map and any of the hundreds of cameras around Osceola County, including DOT cameras and school cameras, one or a dozen at a time.
Especially after the horrific school shooting in South Texas, Sita continues to bring online cameras at all 60 Osceola County schools. Every week, the RTCC is getting access to more school video feeds.
She’s already gotten the blueprints for every single school building and uploaded them to the interactive countywide map displayed on the TVs which pinpoints the location of all patrol units.
Sheriff Marcos Lopez said the Real-Time Crime Center and the ongoing effort to add additional school camera feeds means better protection.
“It’s a lot faster, and it would definitely save lives, like in the past if you’re depending on someone in a stressful situation on a cell phone like Columbine [High School], well you think the shooter’s here, well how many libraries are there and what floor is he on?” Lopez said. “Just having access to the cameras you can send your resources to that exact location in real-time and you can close off other areas to prevent that person from getting out of that perimeter.”
Lopez said the RTCC is already getting results, solving a triple homicide, arresting human traffickers, catching armed robbers, and even a sex offender who cut off his tracking bracelet, all in minutes, not days or weeks.
Sita said she and the analysts pulled up all of the traffic cameras on U.S. 192 in Osceola County, watching the sex offender drive through each intersection. When they saw where he turned off U.S. 192, they sent deputies.
“It’s actually getting our resources in the right direction faster than normal,” Lopez said. “And you don’t have to have that many boots on the ground like in the past, you don’t really have to have detectives knocking on the doors and asking for video and getting subpoenas. It really speeds up the process.”
Sita and her analysts even guided a suicidal woman down from an overpass, safely.
“We shut down traffic, rerouted traffic,” Sita said. “And we saved her life. Together.”
Lopez said the cameras and the technology are not overreach and brushed off recent criticism that his deputies have responded at times too aggressively.
“We definitely have seen a big change in communities around the state where law enforcement has been lax and they’re not taking enforcement action like they should because of community-type pressures, and people who want to perceive us as bullies or come here with aggressive tactics,” Lopez said. “But in Osceola County, our residents want us to enforce crime. They don’t like these, for example, motorcyclists taking over the roadways. They’ll take your car and brandish firearms doing wheelies. People will be happy when we take action against these things because they know their loved ones could be in a vehicle traveling on the road and this motorcycle-popping wheelie could lose control and go through the front window and kill a child. So we’re always going to have to maintain this firm hand on crime to make sure we keep the residents of this county safe.”