Defenders go inside Detroit Police Department to see new ways police fight crime

Police using more technology to track down criminals

By Karen Drew - Reporter/Anchor, Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - The Local 4 Defenders took a look inside the Detroit Police Department and some of the new, updated ways it is fighting crime.

Technology, cameras and instant information are essential for officers when they're searching for criminals.

Good old police footwork includes talking to sources and knocking on doors, but authorities are beginning to rely more on technology, as well.

Detroit police have a high-tech center filled with video feeds from cameras all over the city, some in the open and others in secret locations, looking to catch criminals in the act.

"They theory on a video is the silent witness," Detroit Police Homicide Task Force Sgt. Lance Sullivan said. "It doesn't forget. It doesn't change its mind. It doesn't get intimidated."

Sullivan has worked to track down killers for the past 13 years, but the way he tracks them down has drastically changed.

"Cameras are an everyday part of our lives, and, you know, they're everywhere," Sullivan said. "It's just a matter of finding them, finding the timeline that those cameras fit in when the crime fits."

In 2014, camera footage recorded a man going in and out of a tire store on Livernois Avenue and helped solve a robbery and murder investigation.

"We get to the scene and there's nothing there," Sullivan said. "We have a deceased person."

But they brought in more technology and tracked down a suspect.

"He was charged with armed robbery, felony murder, first-degree murder, and he pleaded guilty to a number of years, versus life," Sullivan said.

Sullivan spends countless hours scouring surveillance videos, some from cameras posted at businesses and others from homeowners.

"The doorbell cameras -- it's people protecting their property," Sullivan said.

Technology is one of the pieces of the puzzle in solving crimes.

"Digital allows longer storage," Sullivan said. "It allows higher definition."

Police are catching more criminals, including illegal dumpers, in the act.

"We're leveraging technology and crime fighting," Assistant Chief of Support Operations James White said.

Maps showing crime hot spots throughout the city are constantly updated to let patrols know exactly where to focus extra attention each day.

"What crime trends are happening, how many 911 calls we've had in a particular area -- and we make deployment decisions based on that information," White said.

When an officer is sent to a call, the technology in his car prepares him for what to expect.

"We're able to push not only video date if there's any, but we're able to push, you know, active pictures," White said.

When an officer arrives at a crime scene, he receives updated information about the address.

"So if there were a person in the home that's known to be a violent person, who's suffering from any mental incapacitation, that's known to be violent or aggressive toward the officer, a history of weapons in the home, those types of things," White said.

"Well, it means increased officer safety so they understand what they're dealing with before going to a location, and it means increased citizen safety, as well," Detroit police Capt. Kari Sloan said.

There are 235 businesses in Detroit that participate in Project Green Light, which posts cameras in and outside of businesses with direct feeds to police headquarters.

Detroit police said fighting crime with technology is working.

"Criminals are getting a little smarter, so we had to get a little smarter," White said.

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