Jacksonville sheriff wants high-tech camera system to help fight crime

$1.6M for Real-Time Crime Center included in mayor's proposed budget

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The sheriff wants to connect cameras all over Jacksonville so police can monitor high-crime areas from one central location.

The new high-tech camera system, called a Real-Time Crime Center, was included in Mayor Lenny Curry's proposed budget for the upcoming year. If approved, $1.6 million will be spent making it a reality and moving the crime center to a central location where other cameras are monitored. 

Sheriff Mike Williams said the system will combine surveillance cameras located at city buildings, parks, and streets to create a new crime-fighting tool.

"It’s a camera system that ties into our dispatch system," Sheriff Mike Williams told News4Jax on Thursday. "So while we have, say 100 cameras operating, we really only need to see the ones where something is happening close by. The system will tell that."

READ: Highlights of proposed Jacksonville Sheriff's Office budget

Eventually, the sheriff wants to connect cameras with businesses and even homeowners, who must give permission.

News4Jax asked resident whether it would be a concern for their privacy.

"It doesn't bother me," homeowner Dennis Jones said. "If it was a private space, I would be concerned. Publicly, out in the street, if they've got cameras, it makes me feel safe."

It’s a program that is already in use in Detroit, where it's called Project Greenlight. The Detroit Police Department said it’s been a very effective tool in tracking crimes and even stopping some from occurring.    

"We are behind the curve as compared to other cities our size with some kind of system like this," Williams said. "It's a great crime fighting tool. It's a great deterrent too. Lots of good video from investigations we'll be able to pull out of this."

Last year, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office started using SpotShotter, a high-tech system of microphones that hears gunfire, pinpoints it to a specific location and alerts police. 

The new system would tie into SpotShotter, allowing police to see and hear where the gunfire sounded. 

The mayor wants the City Council to approve the money to pay for the Real-Time Crime Center, which would could eventually connect with cameras from the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Highway Patrol. 

If history is an indicator, the City Council will likely approve the money. 

News4Jax checked with the American Civil Liberties Union and other to see if they have concerns, and they are looking into it. 

One civil rights attorney said, on a public street, they are aware it's fair game. But added each case would have to be looked at individually.

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