FLINT (WJRT) (11/03/2017) - The Flint Police Department is turning to a new intelligence center filled with TV screens airing footage from a network of surveillance cameras to help deploy its limited resources.
The center is part of the department's plan to reduce response times, which soared to nearly an hour for the highest priority calls this summer.
Police response times have been a long-standing issue in the city of Flint. Some political ads in the mayoral campaign have recently brought the trouble to light again.
Flint Police admit response times were as long as 58 minutes in July, but the Department whittled that time down to about 25 minutes in October.
Flint Police Chief Timothy Johnson hosted a news conference Friday morning to discuss efforts underway to reduce response times even more.
Johnson said an ideal solution to get to a call quicker would be a bigger staff, but that's simply not possible with the current budget. So police commanders created the Flint Police Intelligence Operations Center.
Four people, a mix of uniformed police officers and reserve officers, will staff the center, along with a crime analyst.
They'll be watching big screen TVs around the room displaying video feeds from cameras throughout the city.
"We're gonna have live feed video cameras at several business, bars, stores; and, the live feed is gonna come directly back to here, that allows the personnel here to be viewing this live time," explained Captain Collin Birnie.
That includes several cameras at area businesses participating in the C.A.T.T. EYE program.
"When we see something on the monitors, we'll be able to call it in ourselves," Johnson said. "Even before the citizens of Flint call in and say, 'Someone's breaking in to my car' or 'someone's breaking in to my business' -- if it's on the monitors, we got it. We'll call it in, but we'll respond because we'll be dispatching."
Johnson said Flint Police will still work with the Genesee County 911 Communications Center. But they are hoping the Intelligence Center will help reduce response times and reduce crime across the City.
Officers have created a database for tracking gang members in the City and started using a new software, NC4 Street Smart.
"People can get on there and see where the last, maybe armed robbery happened or when was the last homicide, and there'll be information that officers at every level can input into the NC4 program. Once it's inputted every officer in the department can see it," explained Lt. Todd Pillsbury.
The Center is expected to be fully operational in December.
The Chief says because they have a scarce budget, all of the equipment, furniture and the analyst were paid for by grants.