Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

Hol­ly­wood’s high-tech crime pre­ven­tion cen­ter

- By Wayne K. Rous­tan Staff writer See TECH, 2B

HOL­LY­WOOD— Po­lice have em­ployed some high-tech tac­tics to an­tic­i­pate and pre­vent crime in the city.

Hol­ly­wood’s $1.5-mil­lion Crime In­tel­li­gence Cen­ter is us­ing ma­neu­ver­able sur­veil­lance cam­eras, li­cense plate read­ers, and data anal­y­sis soft­ware to tar­get high-crime “hot spots” and catch crim­i­nals, po­lice of­fi­cials said in an un­veil­ing of the cen­ter on April 29.

“[There are] 145,000 res­i­dents and I’ve got 300 cops to po­lice it. Do the math,” said Hol­ly­wood Po­lice Chief Frank Fer­nan­dez. “This is an ef­fi­cient way of putting of­fi­cers in the right spot at the right time for the right rea­son.”

The video -screen-lined walls of a fourth-floor of­fice at Hol­ly­wood po­lice head­quar­ters serves as the com­mand cen­ter that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“There are 12 cam­eras in North Beach, 26 along Fed­eral High­way, and four down­town,” said De­tec­tive Daniel Jus­tus. Po­lice can also mon­i­tor Florida Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion high­way cam­eras.

Po­lice said that for ex­am­ple, if some­one drives into Hol­ly­wood in a car re­ported stolen, or is us­ing an ex­pired tag, and they hap­pen to drive within view of a cam­era or a li­cense plate reader, an alert will flash within sec­onds on the screens in the Crime In­tel­li­gence Cen­ter. Of­fi­cers would then be de­ployed to make a traf­fic stop.

Of­fi­cer Matt No­rato drives a pa­trol car equipped with li­cense plate read­ers.

“This is a huge nee­dle-in-a-haystack finder,” he said. “It’s some­what Big Brother-y be­cause every­body’s car that goes by, it takes the tag in­for­ma­tion and [cre­ates] a GPS hit for that tag at that mo­ment.”

The in­for­ma­tion is sent to a na­tional data­base and the of­fi­cer knows in­stantly whether a traf­fic stop is re­quired.

The city plans to in­stall more fixed and mo­bile cam­eras along In­ter­state 95 and other main city thor­ough­fares as far west as

Uni­ver­sity Drive in com­ing years. Some res­i­den­tial ar­eas will be mon­i­tored too.

“But we’re not look­ing to have those cam­eras view any­one’s res­i­dence,” Fer- nan­dez said. “We’re look­ing at public ar­eas only.”

Hol­ly­wood po­lice have been min­ing crime data since 2006, said an­a­lyst Mari-Ann Valen­zuela.

“We try to de­velop pat­terns and we fore­cast fu­ture crime ar­eas,” she said. “That’s given out to all the lieu­tenants and ma­jors so they can deploy their re­sources on a daily ba­sis.”

Mayor Peter Bober said that trans­lates into a safer city.

“This tech­nol­ogy is rev­o­lu­tion­ary in terms of its clar­ity and in terms of our abil­ity to know what is hap­pen­ing in the city,” he said.

Fer­nan­dez calls it a com­bi­na­tion of art and science that has cut the city’s bur­glary rate from an av­er­age of 150 per month to fewer than 100 monthly break-ins.

“In North Beach for the last 20 years we’ve been av­er­ag­ing 20 car break-ins a week,” Fer­nan­dez said. “That’s not the case any more. We’ve re­duced them al­most down to zero.”

He said suc­cess­ful pre­dic­tions also act as a de­ter­rent to crim­i­nals.

“This is the fu­ture of polic­ing — uti­liz­ing tech­nol­ogy as a force mul­ti­plier to have more eyes and ears on the com­mu­nity,” Fer­nan­dez said.

 ?? WAYNE K. ROUS­TAN/STAFF ?? Hol­ly­wood Po­lice Chief Frank Fer­nan­dez, left, ex­plains how the new Crime In­tel­li­gence Cen­ter works at a news con­fer­ence at po­lice head­quar­ters.
WAYNE K. ROUS­TAN/STAFF Hol­ly­wood Po­lice Chief Frank Fer­nan­dez, left, ex­plains how the new Crime In­tel­li­gence Cen­ter works at a news con­fer­ence at po­lice head­quar­ters.

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