There is some good news to share about public safety in the downtown area — especially for people who will be using the Red Line as the city begins its move to post-COVID life.
The Chicago Police Department has finally created a 24/7 nerve center in the 1st (Central) District to monitor many of the city’s surveillance cameras in real time. The “Strategic Decision Support Center” (SDSC) went live last Wednesday, June 3, CPD spokesperson Karie James confirmed.
Many other police districts have deployed SDSCs over the past few years. But the Central District — which patrols the Loop, South Loop, part of the West Loop and the lakefront from the Chicago River to 31st Street — has not.
SDSCs have proven to be effective crime-fighting tools. CWBChicago in February spoke with police officers who identified the installation of a 1st District camera room to be an easy fix that would deliver immediate results.
“It has more cameras than any other place in the city and huge targets,” one cop said at the time. “But they don’t have a camera room.”
When a serious crime is reported within range of a CPD “blue light” camera, officers in the SDSC can rewind the camera’s footage to provide field officers with a full run-down of what happened, what the offenders look like, and where they went. They can also quickly send surveillance images of the suspects and wanted vehicles to police in the field.
Officers in the SDSC can tap into CPD’s license plate reading technology to provide real-time locations of suspect vehicles.
The officers also monitor live surveillance camera feeds from CTA stations. But, they still cannot rewind CTA video to see what happened in the past. So, if someone reports a crime at a CTA station, officers have no way to quickly determine what happened, who did it, or where they went. Detectives have to request the footage from CTA via email.
But, police can watch live transit feeds for offenders who try to escape via CTA trains. And they can tell field officers if there are no suspects at CTA stations so the cops can direct their search efforts elsewhere.
SDSCs also support field officers by telling them what did not happen. About two hours after the Central District’s camera room went live last week, its officers informed street cops that video footage showed a supposed robbery victim’s story was fabricated.