Hey Miami Gardens residents, the Real-Time Crime Center is watching.

First of its kind in Florida, the center can map high-crime areas, monitor major traffic stops and intersections, and register gun activity with thermal scans — all in real time.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at City Hall on Monday, Aug. 8.

A video wall displays live maps of Miami Gardens’ high-crime areas with multiple layers; a gunfire detection map determines exact locations; and local news feeds officers up-to-date on all developments of an incident. In addition to monitoring major intersections for crashes, the center's new technology also scans license plate numbers to track stolen vehicles, kidnappers and fleeing criminals, allowing officers to intercept them quicker.

Analysts can also rewind live footage, and screen-share with multiple parties in the office or the center’s conference room. The center uses 15 work spaces with three monitors per chair, allowing analysts to view multiple developments at the same time.

Miami Gardens Police Chief Antonio Brooklen invited federal partners and analysts from other law enforcement agencies to document data and track crime rates there, too. While some citizens feel the increase in surveillance is intrusive, Brooklen said being preventative, being more efficient and being able to keep residents safer, was worth it.

“Safety and freedom aren't always free,” said Brooklen. “And it's a small price to pay.”

Brooklen also thinks members of the Miami Gardens community should follow the cree of leading by example, by becoming better citizens in understanding that misconduct, illegal activity, speeding and other crimes around Miami Gardens will not be tolerated.

Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III agrees.

“I don't want it to be a secret,” he said. “I want to actually change their behavior.” Gilbert also said residents and tourists should know that illegal activity in parks and resident facilities, and speeding in major intersections will especially be monitored.

In February 2015, residents of Miami Gardens approved a plan for a $60 million general obligation bond, part of which has been to install the Real-Time Crime Center.

Brooklen said people will not commit crimes in areas where they know they are being watched. 

“If I knew I would get caught, I wouldn't do it,” Gilbert agreed, recalling avoiding small crimes as a kid. “As people realize that doing these things in this area will actually get you caught, it definitely will alter behavior,” he said.

He also said building and improving both human and technological infrastructure offers a greater ability to catch criminals, and connect with human resources in various areas.

“This is important from a crime-prevention perspective because it lets people know that we're watching,” Gilbert said. “The time when we would turn a blind eye … has passed.”

Mutualink technology allows authorized parties to even access live video footage of any feed anywhere on a cellular device. It allows for walkie-talkie-type communication with service workers at the center, hospitals, police offices, allowing responders to communicate, apply resources to areas in need faster, call 911 or other responders, and send texts.

“The public at large would want to know that someone is keeping an eye on their safety,” said Jeff Kelly, director of field training for Mutualink. “It's all proactive,” he said.

CineMassive's technology also allows users to pan, zoom and interact with surveillance cameras from the center, as well as allows users in the conference room to view data. Video feeds are connected to public facilities and private businesses that give permission.

“This allows them to see all the information they need, dynamically, and interact,” said CineMassive strategist, Katie Digby. She said in a fast-paced world, keeping up with relevant information is key to responding to situations and incidents in a timely manner.

“It helps improve decision-making, efficiency,” Digby said, “because the minutes and seconds do matter.”

“When you're dealing with 21st-Century crime,” said Brooklen “any tool that we can use to make the city safe makes us on the cutting edge and ahead of the curve.”

He also noted that criminals are getting smarter and adapting to new technologies; and the police will have to adapt as well. “We have to keep up with the criminals,” he said.

“This helps with everyone,” said Gilbert, who is also an advocate of body cameras for monitoring police. “The presence of cameras affects everyone's behavior,” he said.

To learn more about the Real-Time Crime Center and to view weekly statistics, visit the Miami-Dade Information Technology Services Bureau's page at www.miamidade.gov.

You may reach Alex Blencowe anytime at alexblencowe17@gmail.com.

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