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More Cops For Chicago’s Streets

Chicago is applying for $106 million in federal-stimulus grants to hire 400 new police officers, even though there’s a costly string attached: When the three-year grants expire, the officers must remain on the city payroll for at least another year.

Daley’s 2009 budget slowed police hiring to a crawl — with only 200 officers expected to be hired throughout the year. The Chicago Police Department is more than 600 officers below its authorized strength. More…

CPD sworn strength:
2009: 13,500
1999: 13,366

Chicago’s Crime Camera System

In 2005, a pilot network of 30 cameras keeps watch over the West Side, capturing images that have been used in more than 200 investigations. It’s the first step on the way to a 2,250-camera system. And the electronic eyes are merely the most visible part of a strategy to completely remake police work in Chicago. A massive set of databases now collects and collates the minutiae of law enforcement – everything from mug shots to chains of evidence. Installed in patrol cars, it turns every PC in every station house into a node on a crime-fighting network. At headquarters, superintendents and commanders use it to pore over patterns of criminal behavior, figuring out how to deploy swarms of cops. Today, the murder rate is at its lowest point since the mid-’60s. Read the whole article….

As of September 2007, the system had 560 crime cameras in place.

Hooked Into the 911 System

Whenever a 911 call is received, the dispatch system automatically scans the city security camera network, in search of a camera within 150 feet of the address of the call.

Video from the camera will appear in the 911 call taker’s computer screen within seconds. The program allows call takers and dispatchers to use the video to provide additional information to first responders and law enforcement in an emergency. More…

Is it Worth it?

Chicago police said that, as of the same day, they had used camera footage in 1,407 arrests, including at least five homicides, since the city began tracking data in February 2006.

Chicago police have not tracked the cost of their cameras, the first of which was installed in 2003, but say more than $5.6 million has been spent on hardware alone. The city’s emergency communications agency will spend $480,000 this year on camera watchers, a spokesman said. More…

How Sweet Are Those Cameras?

“In addition to their phenomenal reliability, what sold us on these cameras was the SNC-RX570N’s 36X zoom lens with its 122.4 millimeter focal length,” said Jim Trofimuk, owner and principal of Waypoint Consulting. “It makes accurate facial recognition and license plate reading possible from a distance of up to 500 feet. The image quality is outstanding and continues to impress anyone who sees it.”

The SNC-RX530N/W and SNC-RX570N cameras offer 360 degrees of endless panning and rotation for precise capture of any object surrounding the camera. They also employ the latest H.264 compression technology – the highest available for image transport and storage. According to Trofimuk, this enables the police department to extend its data storage capacity to up to 30 days, ideal for its incident recording needs. More…