Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
The Boston Police Department has launched a new crime-fighting initiative that relies on computer experts stationed at headquarters to relay crucial information about crime as it is happening to officers on the street.
The initiative, known as the Real Time Crime Center, which is funded mostly with federal grants, has been operating for about a month but was officially unveiled today during a press conference at Boston Police headquarters in Roxbury.
The $500,000 center is the latest in the department's efforts to combine shoe-leather police work with technology. The department also announced the redesign of its website, bpdnews.com, which now links to the city's 11 individual districts and allows residents to do more online, including filing accident reports and applying for gun licenses.
Boston joins other major departments including New York City, which have developed such a real-time crime center. Boston primarily uses cameras trained on major city streets, the 911 dispatch center, and satellite maps to home in on major crimes.
"This is going to be the real nerve cell of operations in the city," Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said, standing in the center, a small, roughly 10-by-12-foot room which until recently had been an office foyer.
Nearby, two technicians stared at three four-screen computers that showed busy city intersections, 911 calls as they came in, and various city maps.
When a major crime breaks, the technicians, who staff the office 17 hours a day, will instantly communicate what they see on the screens to the officers who have been dispatched to the scene.
Last month, the center helped police capture four people involved in a late-afternoon shooting, after technicians in the center witnessed the crime as it was unfolding on Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan.
The technicians were able to relay information about one of the five people, including his exact location, to officers responding to the scene.
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