PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Law enforcement in Portsmouth look to tackle crime, with the help of new technology.
Police are in the process of installing a system that would streamline their access to surveillance cameras in the city. Leaders also want to bring gunshot detection software in the mix.
Upwards of 400 city-owned cameras across Portsmouth are either for closed-circuit television, traffic or security. More cameras are likely on the way.
In a presentation before city council members Wednesday evening, Interim Police Chief Stephen Jenkins said a new system called Fusus will integrate all those video feeds into one network.
"To utilize this real-time data, to put us in the best position to be successful and also enhance our situational awareness when it comes to combating crime," said Jenkins.
Jenkins said Fusus has already been purchased. It costs $125,000 for a yearly subscription.
"Technology is a force multiplier for us," he added.
There are also plans to establish a "real-time crime center." Jenkins said talks are still underway on whether employees, volunteers or a combination of the two will staff it.
"That [real-time crime center] is going to be the focal point of all video, camera feeds that will come into the city," Jenkins said.
At the same time, police are extending even more outreach to the community. That's because partners, such as housing complexes, businesses and schools, can allow the city access to their respective surveillance feeds as part of the Fusus platform.
"It's a voluntary system," said Jenkins.
The chief also mentioned Fusus has proven success in other areas, such as Atlanta.
Jenkins said this is all being done in an effort to deter crime.
"To say Portsmouth is not the place to come and do crime," he said.
During the same presentation to council on Wednesday, Jenkins also reviewed two gunshot detection softwares under consideration. He outlined the upsides of ShotSpotter and Flock.
ShotSpotter is already in use in two Hampton Roads cities; Virginia Beach and Newport News. Multiple other localities in the Seven Cities are expected to roll out with an installation of Flock, according to Jenkins' presentation.
BREAKDOWN OF COSTS FOR GUNSHOT DETECTION SYSTEMS
- $245,000/year with a $45,000 one-time setup fee
- Reoccurring costs would be $245,000 with discounts for multi-year contracts
- $185,000/year with a $350 one-time setup fee
- Reoccurring costs would be $90,000 with no discounts for multi-year contract
Moreover, Flock offers a license plate reader system, which is also under consideration.
Additionally, Jenkins told 13News Now the distribution of free doorbell cameras is already underway. Applicants selected through a lottery system do not have to register their cameras with the city, but they are highly encouraged to.
"Everybody has a part to play and a role to play," said Darrell Redmond, a local anti-violence activist and founder of the nonprofit Give Back 2 Da Block.
He expressed that he likes the technology initiatives; however, he said he wants to see city leaders pour additional focus into other strategies available.
"I believe in intervention and prevention, doing things that we don't have to utilize a camera by bringing in grassroot organizations," said Redmond.