Inside Detroit’s Real-Time Crime Center: How Detroit police use technology to fight crime

We’ve seen the inside of Detroit’s Real Time Crime Monitoring Facility before, but how does it all work to keep people safe?

DETROIT – We’ve seen the inside of Detroit’s Real Time Crime Monitoring Facility before, but how does it all work to keep people safe?

You’ve probably heard of Project Green Light, but the technology the Detroit Police Department has at its fingertips to solve crime in the city goes a lot further than that. Their Real Time Crime Monitoring Facility has incredible technology used to help fight crime.

On just after 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, a homicide was captured on Detroit’s Project Green Light cameras.

“We were able to track the suspect prior to the shooting, up to an hour before walking through the streets,” said Stamatia Tsakos, the Executive Manager of DPD’s Crime Intel Unit. “About 45 minutes, 50 minutes before the shooting we were able to see him walk into a business without a mask on and this led to us being able to put out a really clear image of the suspect to our community.”

The suspect was identified after tips from viewers. He’s now charged with murder. Analysts inside the Detroit Police Department’s Real Time Crime Monitoring Center believe the technology they access helps them fight crime faster.

“We’ve seen some non-fatal shootings, some homicides, we’ve seen property crimes, we’ve seen individual victims of domestic violence at these locations. So having that access immediately is critical,” Tsakos said.

The Crime Intel Unit is a 24/7 operation. The hub houses the feed from Project Green Light cameras at 802 businesses within Detroit. Each business has a minimum of four cameras. In total there are 4,338 cameras watching over Detroit. A gas station at Grand River and Wyoming avenues used to be a hot spot for crime.

“I would sit in my office, people would fight, shot, stabbed,” said community activist, Reverand Horace Sheffield.

Reverand Sheffield helped finance the cameras at this gas station, now a Project Green Light partner.

“It has changed this whole neighborhood,” said Sheffield. “You can talk to anybody in the neighborhood coalition and they’ll tell you the one thing that changed this neighborhood was the green light on the corner.”

And the fact that DPD is always watching. But inside the room, the technology is more than just visual. While the assets monitored there do include license plate readers, analysts can also detect gunshots in certain areas within Detroit.

“We have sensors placed throughout these areas,” said Tsakos. “When a gun is fired somewhere in that area those sensors triangulate the location of that gunshot. It goes to the shot spotter review center where they determine whether it was gunfire or not and then we get that notification within 60 seconds of that gun being fired.”

“Hopefully we are driving down the violent crime in the city,” said Michael McGinnis, DPD’s Commander of Major Crimes.

Commander McGinnis, understands how crucial this technology is. It helped put a suspect behind bars for robbery and the murder of a man at Andy’s Market in January of last year.

“What they did is they backtracked the video and found him on video at a prior establishment before the robbery without his mask on,” he said.

“Our goal is really to create that for officer safety and also to empower our community to know that we do have these assets available,” said Tsakos.

DPD analyzes data to determine where more cameras are needed. Businesses can choose to opt in and be a part of Project Green Light. There are two shot spotter detectors, one each on Detroit’s east and west sides near the eighth and ninth precincts. The monitors on the big screens show what’s happening in real-time. Analysts can communicate with officers to assist as needed.

“The real strength of our program is when we can use these tools in combination,” said Tsakos.

In the first three months of this year, DPD has made just over 16,000 visits to Project Green Light partners.

The cost to become a Project Green Light partner ranges from $4,000 to $6,000 for the cameras. There’s a small monthly fee as well plus an installation fee.

For more information on the program, you can click here.

Read: More local crime coverage

About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.