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Behind the scenes: Jacksonville’s Real-Time Crime Center
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Behind the scenes: Jacksonville’s Real-Time Crime Center

Behind the scenes: Jacksonville’s Real-Time Crime Center
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown

Behind the scenes: Jacksonville’s Real-Time Crime Center

As Jacksonville continues to explore how to fight back against violent crime, WOKV is getting a closer look at one of the newest systems police believe will help not only their immediate response, but their investigation that follows.

IN DEPTH: Jacksonville’s Real-Time Crime Center

WOKV was the first station to take you in depth on the RTCC proposal several months ago, outlining a pilot process, which the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was already planning to move beyond. Sheriff Mike Williams says they have 20 cameras deployed right now and are planning for 80 more before the year is up. This year’s budget allows for four hires dedicated to the RTCC, and two of those are currently on board.

“It’s more about us measuring our approach to this, taking our time, make sure we’re doing it right. We don’t want to put too much in too fast, and then have to pull back. So we’re taking our time in that,” Williams says.

JSO walked WOKV and our partner Action News Jax through the system, which centers on a software called CommandCentral Aware, that serves to streamline various data streams for quick and easy use by an analyst. The analyst hears dispatch audio and can see the notes from the dispatcher. The system can be set up to flag certain types of incidents, and automatically detects other useful resources- like ShotSpotter- that may be in the area. If there are cameras in that radius, they are triggered by the system, meaning it is no longer up to people to monitor potentially hundreds of camera feeds.


All of that information can help first responders and the very early investigation, and an analyst can even proactively monitor the video feeds for any suspicious circumstances. But the system is also used in the long-running work.

Surveillance footage can be downloaded and put in to another RTCC program which lets the analyst overlay video from different times and search for key features. If they have some suspect attributes to search for, that could mean taking two hours worth of surveillance and processing it in minutes, as opposed to needing officers to review it manually.

Williams says information like this has already helped in four or five priority cases, although he declined to say which. He says having the video can be invaluable when there is not a lot of witness testimony or there are conflicting accounts, because where they would previously have to sort through the statements and make judgement calls, they now have easily accessible and searchable video that can help point their investigation in the right direction.

“It gives us some very powerful analytical tools to be able to look through video, look for- again- people on bicycles, a white van, whatever it is that we’re looking for, and really shrink that time down that we’re spending on looking at and watching video kind of roll. The system will do that for us. And, again, that puts us quicker to whatever logical conclusion we’re looking for- are we catching a bad guy quicker, are we recovering a child quicker. All those things that you can imagine, you get out of something like this,” Williams says.


Analysts are also able to search historically, meaning they can go back and see surveillance from an overnight incident, when the station was unmanned. Currently, the RTCC does not operate 24-hours because of the limited staffing, but Williams says they hope to be in that posture some time next year. That also means increasing from the one current work station to four overall- one more would join the station that’s already set up at the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, and two would be at the Police Memorial Building, which is JSO’s headquarters Downtown.

As they build up those hours, they’re also looking at continuing to build out the capabilities. The plan and budget is 100 cameras this year, with the early focus being pairing cameras with ShotSpotter locations, City parks, and Downtown. Williams says they could look to add even more cameras in the future, and while data would drive the decision on where those are placed, he believes areas like the 103rd Street corridor would be on the list.

Once they’re more established, Williams says they will also look at adding cameras feeds that don’t belong to JSO. Internet-based cameras have the ability to feed in to the RTCC, so Williams says they’ve already been in talks with businesses about gaining access to their surveillance feeds to use if there are incidents in that area. He says they could seek the same types of arrangements with home surveillance and City cameras as well. The City is in the process of upgrading hundreds of surveillance cameras, and the proposal that’s been put forward would ensure the new cameras can network as JSO would need.

Stephanie Brown
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Real-Time Crime Center

Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown

The growth within JSO’s own system requires additional funding. About $3 million has been put in to this project so far according to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, and he says he’s willing to back investing in more, if it’s shown that that’s what’s needed. He says he and Williams have not yet talked about what the budget request for the next fiscal year will be, but prevention, intervention, and enforcement are all important elements that need investment in order to better public safety.

IN DEPTH: Jacksonville’s $1.2 billion budget

“This is another tool that’s gunna set the foundation not only for today, success today- the Sheriff talked about some of the success today- but even bigger success in the future, as we build this out. ShotSpotter, NIBIN, the way all this integrates, this is all a collective effort to have another tool to solve the problem,” he says.

And while the City is using tools like this and exploring non-policing measures like Cure Violence as well, Curry says it’s important to keep traditional means strong.

“We can make these investments in manpower and technology and people and after school programs and summer programs, but individual people are still making bad decisions. And so, we can’t force them to make good decisions. All we can do is invest in the enforcement to get them off the street, and then invest in the young people to make sure they make good decisions,” Curry says.

The RTCC also monitors the demands on JSO overall, through mapping of calls by incident type, tracking overall call volume, and more.

Stephanie Brown
Close

Real-Time Crime Center

Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown

Curry says he knows it can be frustrating to see violence continue in the community while everything comes together, especially spikes like last weekend, when four people were killed and five others hurt in seven separate shooting incidents.

“Over the long term, you’re gunna get the results that you want. You can’t throw stuff against the wall and change a strategy and your way forward every time there’s a terrible tragic event,” he says.

Williams believes that within a year and a half, they will have the camera coverage and systems in place to truly maximize on the potential of the RTCC. 

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The Latest News Headlines

  • Police in Titusville, Florida, said a man was arrested after a 9-year-old girl was accidentally shot Saturday afternoon. >> Read more trending news  Police said Titusville resident Dustin Adkins, 34, was arrested and is now facing charges including aggravated child neglect with great bodily harm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Adkins is on probation for manslaughter involving the shooting death of a child, police said. The shooting occurred as four young juveniles were with an adult relative target shooting in the woods near State Road 407 and I-95, authorities said. Police said that at some point, the adult left the children unsupervised, and the 9-year-old girl was shot by a sibling accidentally while the sibling was shooting at a target. 'It is outrageous that this adult provided firearms and ammunition to these young children,' said Deputy Chief Todd Hutchinson. 'Especially given his past arrest and conviction.' Police said the family transported the child to the hospital. The child was critically injured and is in stable condition, officers said. After a lengthy search, officers found several firearms on a trail hidden under a disposed tire in the wooded area, officials said. No other details were made available.
  • An Arkansas officer was killed in a shooting outside the Fayetteville Police Department on Saturday night, authorities said. >> Read more trending news  Update, 11:22 a.m. EST Dec. 8: Fayetteville police Chief Mike Reynolds identified the officer who was shot and killed outside the Fayetteville Police Department on Saturday night and also identified the shooter, KFSM reported. Reynolds said Officer Stephen Carr was alone in the parking lot waiting for his partner when the suspect, London T. Phillips, 35, approached and fatally shot him, the television station reported. Original story: According to a Fayetteville police news release, the shooting occurred just after 9:40 p.m. in the parking lot behind the police station. Officers in the building heard gunfire and rushed outside to find their colleague down and the suspected shooter fleeing, the release said. Police then chased the suspect, who exchanged fire with officers in a nearby alley, KTHV reported. The suspect was shot, authorities said. The officer and suspect both died from their injuries, according to the news release. Officials have not released the name of the slain officer or suspected shooter. No further information was immediately available. Read more here or here.
  • A suspect died Friday morning after opening fire at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing at least three people and injuring seven others. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said the shooting was reported just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office exchanged gunfire with the suspected shooter, killing him, officials said. Here are the latest updates: Update 3:42 p.m. EST Dec. 8: Officials are still trying to determine whether Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani acted alone or was part of a terrorist group Friday when he opened fire at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, The Washington Post reported. Rachel Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville division, said at a news conference that the agency’s main goal is to determine whether the Saudi air force lieutenant worked as “part of a larger network,” the newspaper reported. Rojas said Shamrani’s weapon, a 9mm Glock, was purchased legally, but she did not describe how Shamrani obtained it and brought it onto the base, according to the Post. Update 10:38 p.m. EST Dec. 7: The third victim of the Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting was identified as Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill Georgia. “The Sailors that lost their lives in the line of duty and showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil,” Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer at the installation, said in a release. 'When confronted, they didn’t run from danger; they ran towards it and saved lives. If not for their actions, and the actions of the Naval Security Force that were the first responders on the scene, this incident could have been far worse.” Update 9:58 p.m. EST Dec. 7: Two of the three victims in the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola were identified. Mohammed “Mo” Haitham, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was killed as he tried to stop the shooter, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Haitham, 19, joined the Navy after graduating high school last year. He was assigned to flight crew training and was expected to graduate later this month. “He said he was going to get his flight jacket for Christmas,” his mother, Evelyn Brady, who also served in the Navy, told the Times. Update 3:08 p.m. EST Dec. 7: Authorities said Mohammed Saeed Ashamrani, the Saudi student who fatally shot three people at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola hosted a dinner party earlier in the week, and he and three other people watched videos of mass shootings, The Associated Press reported Saturday. The official was briefed by federal investigators, according to the AP. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, whose district includes the Pensacola area, tweeted he received condolences from Saudi Ambassador Reema Al-Saud, WEAR-TV reported. Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 7: Family members identified one of the victims fatally shot at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday. Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who reported to Pensacola two weeks ago, was one of the three people killed during Friday’s shooting, the newspaper reported. Watson’s brother, Adam Johnson, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, the News Journal reported “Joshua Kaleb Watson saved countless lives today with his own,” Adam Johnson wrote Friday night. ”After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. 'He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled.” Watson’s father, Benjamin Watson, told the News Journal his son was the officer on deck at the time of the shooting. Joshua Watson was shot at least five times, his father told the newspaper. Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 7: Family members identified one of the victims fatally shot at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday. Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who reported to Pensacola two weeks ago, was one of the three people killed during Friday’s shooting, the newspaper reported. Watson’s brother, Adam Johnson, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, the News Journal reported. Update 9:30 p.m. EST Dec. 6: The shooter has been identified as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani according to WKRG. He is one of hundreds of international military members who are receiving training there. In a news conference Friday night, the FBI declined to comment on his possible motivations. “There are many reports circulating, but the FBI deals only in facts,” said Rachel L. Rojas, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office. “This is still very much an active and ongoing investigation.” Update 2:25 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities declined to confirm the identity of the person who shot several people Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people before being shot and killed by deputies. “I think there’s obviously going to be a lot of questions about this indivdual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi Air Force and then to be here training on our soil and to do this,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning at a news conference. “The FBI is working with (the Department of Defense), they’re working with (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement), they’re working with Escambia County sheriff’s to answer those questions.” DeSantis said he spoke earlier Friday with President Donald Trump. “One of the things that I talked to the president about is given that this was a foreign national in the employ of a foreign service ... obviously the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for the victims,' DeSantis said. 'I think that they, they are going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals.” Authorities confirmed at a news conference that the suspect used a handgun in Friday’s shooting. Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer of NAS Pensacola, said the suspect was at NAS Pensacola for aviation training. Earlier in the day, deputies said the suspect opened fire just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 1:45 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities in Pensacola are expected to provide an update Friday afternoon on the investigation into the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola that left four people dead. Update 1:20 p.m. EST Dec. 6: President Donald Trump said Friday afternoon that he’s spoken to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and received a full briefing on the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time,” Trump said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing.” Update 12:50 p.m. EST Dec. 6: An official told The Associated Press that the person who opened fire Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people and wounding several others before being shot and killed by authorities, was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia. Authorities are investigating to determine whether the shooting was terrorism-related, according to the AP. Military from around the globe attend the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Authorities are expected to hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. local time Friday to update the public on the investigation. Update 11:50 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities expect to hold a news conference at 12 p.m. local time Friday to provide more updates on the shooting that left four people dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities said a total of 11 people were injured or killed in Friday morning’s shooting, including the suspected shooter. The injured included two responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Morgan said Friday at a news conference. One deputy was shot in the arm and the other was shot in the knee, Morgan said. They were both expected to survive. Morgan described walking through the scene left by Friday’s attack as being similar to “being in a movie.” “You just don’t expect this to happen here at home,” he said. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 10:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials are holding a news conference to update the public on Friday morning’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Update 10:25 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Vice President Mike Pence said he’s monitoring the situation in Florida after a shooting left two victims and a suspect dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “Praying for the victims & their families,” Pence wrote Friday morning in a Twitter post. “We commend the first responders for their swift action in taking down the shooter & getting those on base to safety.”  Update 10:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: White House officials said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the deadly shooting reported Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 10:15 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with Naval Air Station Pensacola said the base will closed for the day Friday after a shooting left three people dead earlier in the day. Authorities said at least three people, including the suspected shooter, were killed in the incident. Reports indicated at least eight other people were wounded in the shooting. The incident happened two days after authorities said a U.S. sailor shot and killed two civilian employees before turning the gun on himself at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. One other person was injured in that shooting. Naval Air Station Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to officials. Update 10:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said his office has been in “close contact with all the relevant officials & closely monitoring events” after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning, killing two people. Authorities said the shooter also died. “Please pray for everyone impacted by this horrible situation,” Rubio said in a Twitter post. Update 10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: A spokesman at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital told CNN that hospital officials expected to get three patients who had been injured in Friday morning’s shooting, down from the six expected earlier in the day. Hospital spokesman Mike Burke told the news network most victims were taken to Baptist Hospital because of its proximity to the base. Kathy Bowers, a spokeswoman for Baptist Hospital, earlier told the Pensacola News Journal that the hospital had received five patients wounded in Friday’s shooting. Update 9:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy have confirmed that a second person has died after a shooter opened fire Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 9:35 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials told the Pensacola News Journal two people were confirmed dead after Friday morning’s shooting, in addition to the shooter. Naval officials previously said at least one person had been killed. Update 9:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: At least 11 people were hospitalized in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s deadly shooting, according to The Associated Press. Ascension Sacred Heart spokesman Mike Burke told the AP six people were taken to the hospital after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola early Friday. The Pensacola News Journal previously reported five other people were taken to Baptist Hospital with injuries. Naval officials said at least one victim was killed in Friday’s shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 9:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy said at least one person died Friday morning in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. Authorities said the suspected shooter was also dead Friday morning. Update 9 a.m. EST Dec. 6: An official with Baptist Hospital told the Pensacola News Journal five patients were taken to the hospital after Friday morning’s reported shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 8:55 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said a suspected shooter was dead Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Original report: Authorities are responding Friday morning to reports of shots fired at Naval Air Station Pensacola, according to base officials. Authorities at NAS Pensacola said both gates to the base were closed Friday morning as authorities investigated. Officials with the U.S. Navy said the base was on lockdown around 7:45 a.m. local time. A spokeswoman for ECSO told the Pensacola News Journal deputies were working to “take down” what was described as an active shooter around 7:30 a.m. local time. Officials with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office told WEAR-TV injuries were reported. Details on the number of people wounded and the extent of their injuries was not immediately available. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • For the people who work for Cure Violence, their mission is personal. Rod Lawson told Action News Jax he lost a brother and nephew back-to-back to gun violence.  “I know the pain it brings to the family,” he said. “I know the pain we’re still going through.”  Anthony Smith said he’s experienced the same pain – on the job.  “When I went to the shooting response, I found out it was my family member, my nephew, is the one that got shot that was lying in the house dead,” he said.  Lawson and Smith are among 15 violence interrupters that go into neighborhoods to try to stop retaliation.  In the six months since Cure Violence rolled out in Jacksonville, the city says interrupters mediated 52 conflicts in the streets.  The city says they stopped 37 shootings, 11 of which they believe would’ve been deadly.  “That’s them working with two parties that have a conflict and getting them to resolve that peacefully,” Damian Cook said.  Cook is the Cure Violence implementation director. Action News Jax asked Cook if the city considers Cure Violence a success, despite all the recent shootings. That includes 11 just this week.  “We are seeing the results. It would’ve been much worse, unfortunately. That’s what we see from this,” he said.  He and the men working on the front lines to stop the violence say changes won’t come overnight.  “It’s gonna work, and their minds are changing,” Smith said. “I understand how you feel but we don’t need to take the initiative to retaliate on anybody. Let’s stop it right now and let’s move forward.”  Lawson said if he can help save at least one life, that means a lot to him.  “We just started up. Just give us time. We can’t stop everything. I can’t stop everything. Just give us time, and we need people to help us too,” he said.  Action News Jax also talked with a UF Health Jacksonville trauma surgeon who treats a lot of shooting victims.  She said they’re working on adding another person to the Cure Violence team who would respond directly to the hospital after a shooting.
  • A new 5G cell phone tower in Ponte Vedra Beach continues to cause outrage and alarm. Action News Jax first told you in May when Bolles parents pushed back because they said the tower was too close to campus.  Action News Jax learned the Planning and Zoning Agency approved new plans to move it away from the school and onto the south side of the property.  The relocation area is 1,315 feet SSW of the previously-approved location, approximately 1,465 feet from the Bolles School, and 925 feet from the nearest residential structure.  Peter Kemp lives in the Woodlands Creek neighborhood and said neighbors are upset.  “Now they’re just punting it over to our side,” Kemp said.'  Kemp said parents are afraid of potential health risks.  “If it’s a concern for Bolles it should be concerned for residence in this neighborhood too,” Kemp said.  He said it’s also an eyesore.  “People might not want to buy this neighborhood and decrease our value of our property,” Kemp said.  Kemp said neighbors plan to appeal the decision.

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