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Police: Crime rate dropped 26% during RNC, SAFECOP makes a difference | News

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Police: Crime rate dropped 26% during RNC, SAFECOP makes a difference
Police: Crime rate dropped 26% during RNC, SAFECOP makes a difference

Tampa, Florida-- As the City of Tampa prepared for its first ever National Special Security Event, the Republican National Convention, the Tampa Police Department quietly deployed a cutting edge technology called SAFECOP to ensure citizens' safety.

It seems to have been successful, seeing that most cities typically have an increase in crime while law enforcement cover large scale events, and Tampa's crime rate actually dropped 26% during the RNC (even though there were 20% fewer detectives, crime analysts and plain clothes ROC officers on hand).

SAFECOP uses high speed information sharing developed by NC4 to arm officers with critical crime data while they are out on patrol.

Tampa Police officials call it "revolutionary", as they say it enables officers to solve crimes faster. 

The use of SAFECOP during the event "allowed patrol officers to police smarter," officials explained in a release. 

Some features of the new technology include:

Continuously Updated Crime Maps

"As officers drive through a zone, their in-car computers display a map crimes and their locations, says the release. "Each type of crime, such as robberies or auto thefts, show up in color coded symbols," and the maps update moments after a crime takes place. This allows officers to quickly identify emerging crime patterns.

One touch of the screen and cops see the known offenders who live in the area.

Not only can officers identify the known offenders in the area of a recently committed crime, they also have the ability to search by offender categories, including career criminals, sexual predators and juvenile offenders.

"This is the first system to provide officers with such critical information so quickly," say officials.

High Speed Crime Bulletins

"Officers can download surveillance video, capture a screen shot of the suspect and instantaneously create a crime bulletin to share throughout the department, region or state, which allows officers to share investigative leads, possible suspect information and case developments with officers and supervisors on the next shift.

Previously, this process could take several hours or even days, but SAFECOP gives officers a way to share urgent crime information quickly, without relying on email.

Tampa Police provided additional information on the origin of SAFECOP, and those that pioneered the creation.

"The idea to build the new technology was born more than two years ago in the department's weekly crime meetings. Commanders and analysts had mastered the science of tracking crime and repeat offenders, but the processing and mapping of that data took time.

Assistant Chief John Bennett championed the idea that technology was the answer. He believed the same homeland security software that the department already utilized to manage large events could also ensure better case management, and ultimately protect Tampa citizens from becoming victims of crime.

Homeland Security Software for Crime Fighting The Tampa Bay UASI first purchased NC4's Esponder in 2004 for incident management and information sharing during a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.

Chief Jane Castor mandated that all homeland security purchases also be utilized in day to day operations.

Tampa Police put Esponder to use managing all large events in the city including Gasparilla parades, Tampa Bay Buccaneer games and the 2009 Super Bowl.

The department utilized the RNC security grant to update the system for the Republican National Convention, and to build the crime fighting component that launched during the event.

The new module cost $400,000 and will be available next year to all nine jurisdictions in the Urban Area Security Initiative; Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Sumter, Hardee and Port of Manatee

700 Tampa Police officers currently utilize SAFECOP, an acronym for Situational Awareness for Enforcers'-Common Operating Picture. All Tampa Police officers will be trained on the system in the next two weeks.

It currently maps four high volume, pattern crimes; robbery, auto theft burglary and auto burglary.

The department plans to add all major crimes early next year.

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