Wilmington PD launch real-time crime center

Cecilia Ashe writes on an interactive board in a crime center

Cecilia Ashe is seen in a file photo from 2017, when she was a lieutenant with the Wilmington Police Department. WHYY file)

Wilmington Police now have a real-time crime center that provides high-tech data to officers, commanders and investigators for more effective policing.

Chief Bobby Cummings joined Mayor Dennis Williams, D-Wilmington, and city and state leaders in a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour of the center at the William T. McLaughlin Public Safety Building on Monday.

“In the past we were responding to a lot of queries, and a lot of its word of mouth, so now we’re able to provide a lot more data to support what we’ve been saying,” Cummings said.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to use this to build better relationships in the community, have a bit more transparency, but I think we’re going to be in a better position to gather data and respond to that.”

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The center in Wilmington is the first of its kind in the state, and is modeled after similar centers in New Jersey and New York. The technology uses a blend of crime analysis, criminal intelligence and operation resources that will be headed by two commanders, a crime analysis unit and a criminal operating unit.

“It gives us a lot of capabilities we believe will help us provide the data and respond to questions in a timelier manner,” Cummings said.

The police department will be able to see real-time data on information like where a fire arm was discharged, where pending calls for service are and an officer’s history and driving patterns.

Commanders will have the ability to analyze the data, and learn if the tactics or policing strategies are successful in their sector based on crime analysis, and crime patterns.

Lt. Cecilia Ashe, the commander of the center, said the technology also allows for greater accountability among the police department.

 “Citizens may indicate they haven’t seen an officer in their neighborhood,” she said. “This would allow us to pull up the officers in that sector or district and explain to the community, ‘Yes, an officer has been there seven times in the last eight hours.’”

The police department also will be able to communicate information in real-time. In the past, if there was a wanted person, for example, the department entered the information in an email system and officers would have to log into a separate system to access it. Now the information will appear in their vehicle and alert them within seconds.

“The most important thing for us is officer safety and situational awareness so they understand what’s going on in their community,” Ashe said. “If we have a wanted subject out there and if they had to log into their email system and it was down it puts them at a disadvantage.”

Prevention also is a key component of the crime center as crime analysts will be stationed in the center to evaluate date, and compose reports based on the information that will determine where to position officers for the most effectiveness.

The police department will share some of the information with civic groups to educate them on crime in their areas, Cummings said.

“It puts us in a better position to analyze crime, look at what’s going on and then be able to respond,” he said.

The installation of the real-time crime center is one of 111 recommendations put in place by the Department of Justice’s Violence Reduction Network to reduce violence in Wilmington.

In June, Cummings presented a comprehensive strategic public safety plan initiating the recommendations.

“This is just another step to show from the onset we have been responsive to the recommendations that came out of that report and we continue to try to progress through that,” Cummings said.

In January, City Council approved an Administration Ordinance providing a three-year contract for software to be used in the RTCC. In April, City Council approved an administration-requested resolution which formally accepted a $750,000 appropriation from the Delaware General Assembly’s fiscal year 2016 Bond and Capital Improvements Act for the center.

Cummings said the department must seek other grants when upgrades are needed for the center.

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