New information system helps police solve crimes


POSTED: Friday, April 30, 2010

The Waikiki police substation has a new way to keep officers up to date on crimes. The new system has resulted in at least three arrests this year.

Michelle Yu, police spokeswoman, said the system provides another way for conveying information.

Known as Multimedia Technology Assisting Cops, the system is made up of two 46-inch monitors and two 20-inch monitors that broadcast information to officers at the Waikiki substation, the main station and a satellite office. The screens can display different information at the same time.

At the start of the shift, officers get bulletins on paper, but now they also see the bulletins rotating on the video screen, which includes photos and videos. Some information might be a description of a suspect or a surveillance video from a business.

The video runs before the shift and toward the shift's end when officers are coming in from patrol.

Yu said the video system sets the scene for officers and keeps them on the lookout for things that perhaps they would not have been aware of. Detectives can also put up information in the system.

Police said since the unveiling in January, the venture has helped in several arrests, including identifying a person of interest in a series of thefts. But the department remained tight-lipped about details, saying the cases are still open.

AT&T, however, said the system has led to three arrests. The company, which maintains the hardware and software, said the project has helped catch a burglary suspect and find a getaway car.

In the burglary case, an officer recognized an unidentified suspect depicted on the monitors. Police investigated and arrested the suspect on two separate warrants, AT&T said.

In another case, the system displayed a vehicle used in a series of robberies that would be parked illegally to make a quick getaway. An officer saw the information on the monitor, then on patrol noticed a car parked similarly and found it was the wanted car.

Police Sgt. Dave Barnett, who works with the system, said its impact might not be noticeable to the public, but it improves investigations and makes patrol tactics more effective by providing extra information.

The system also shows beat announcements, crime trends and emergency preparedness and safety information. Additional messages included how to legally identify a service dog and when it is illegal to fish in Waikiki.

While the system includes similar information that appears on laptops in patrol cars, it can download video much faster and enhance what officers see on their laptops.

The project costs $65,000, supported with a $25,000 grant from the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association. An association official said the group agreed to co-sponsor the project to improve safety by enhancing officers' awareness of crimes.

Two officers who track crime trends in Waikiki came up with the idea for the system, but the department would not release details about them and would not allow the system to be photographed, saying it is in an operational area.

It is a three-year pilot project and will be expanded if proved effective.