National News

Cutting-edge tech helping Hartford police catch criminals

Posted November 7, 2017 11:46 a.m. EST

— Cutting-edge technology is helping the Hartford Police Department catch criminals, find missing people, and alleviate traffic issues.

Hartford Police took Eyewitness News inside the department's new high-tech crime lab. Hartford Police Sgt. Johnmichael O'Hare uses a real-life example from September when officers received an emergency call. The caller only provided details of a man in a white van pulling up to a girl on Stonington Street asking her to get in. She said he exposed himself and then sped off.

O'Hare and his team got to work, reviewing their network of surveillance cameras called Briefcam. O'Hare plugs in the location of Stonington Street, and was immediately able to pull up all car traffic in the last two hours.

"We have 3,480 objects moving through this path," O'Hare said.

O'Hare said he then receives a description and was able to pinpoint the van.

"We just know we're looking for a van, not a car or a motorcycle. We're looking for a van going southbound," O'Hare said. "That's our van. This is our van."

Moments later, police find the suspect, a 34-year-old father of three.

For O'Hare, it's routine.

"Everyday. What time is it this morning? I've done this three times this morning already," O'Hare said.

The network of cameras at the Hartford Police Department speeds up crime solving. Gone are the days when detectives would need to scroll through hours of footage. The network also helps to find lost children or dementia patients.

The same traffic analytics are being used to make Dunkin Donuts Park more efficient for its second season. City officials are also looking at sidewalk usage on some of the busier city streets.

"Maybe I need a longer crosswalk, maybe I need a longer light, her," O'Hare said, demonstrating the equipment in real-time. "More officers positioned in a different location."

Police said they are happy to tout the crime-solving success and are confident it'll lead to a brighter future for Hartford. Police added they're just as happy to report, none of this cost the taxpayers a dime. Everything comes from grants and money from property seized from crimes.

"No longer, just about enforcement," O'Hare said. "We as a department are here to make you safe and make things better and make this a city people want to come and enjoy."

The cameras cover 720 spots all over Hartford and the goal is to expand throughout the capital city. Police said the system does not collect information on individuals. Its purpose is to collect large data. The only time it will hone in one someone is when they're being eyed for a crime.