MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis police are the first in the country to merge two technologies to help officers fight crime.

The Minneapolis Police Department has combined shot spotter technology and a system of cameras to help catch criminals in the act.

Authorities allowed WCCO-TV’s Reg Chapman into a secret location in Minneapolis, where a strategic information center is housed.

Minneapolis Police Deputy Chief Rob Allen said the room is where police gather intelligence.

“This is the room where we try and fuse the technology we have to monitor video cameras, to monitor the sounds of possible gunshots, and it’s where we have our officers who are trained in intelligence gathering,” he said.

The system in the room is like CBS’ Thursday night show “Person of Interest,” in which cameras are used to help save people from becoming victims of crime.

“If you can anticipate where crimes might happen, you got a far better chance of preventing them from occurring,” Allen said.

According to Allen, when a gunshot goes off, a camera turns toward the source of the sound. Strategic Information Center Commander Lt. Jeff Rugel said the technology helped solve a case where a man was shot, killed and pushed out of a moving car. The sound of the gunfire activated the cameras, which gave police their first clue.

“We then saw a vehicle fleeing the scene,” Rugel said.

That car had distinctive markings its the hood.

“We sent those pictures out to the patrol officers and said, ‘Find this car,'” Rugel said. “Within a couple of days they had the car. They located it, impounded it, and then the investigators were able to do forensic tests to prove the victim was in that car.”

As a result, police arrested the gunman, who was subsequently charged with murder. The cameras were instrumental in solving this case. They were also helpful in other cases, such are the shooting on Lowry Avenue and Emerson Avenue in North Minneapolis. Police were able to keep an eye on the victim and give officers a detailed description of the gunman.

City Of Eyes

The number of cameras connected to the intelligence system is growing and helping police catch more criminals. But not all the cameras are owed by the city.

“The city owns roughly 250 cameras,” Allen said. “We can access right now … an infinite number of cameras.”

According to Allen, any camera that has an IP address, is connected to the Internet, and that police have permission to use can give information to authorities.

So whenever you are in a public space, know that you’re likely on camera. Police are using portable cameras more now than ever. They can put them where they are needed and have one up and running within an hour of the order.

Invasion Of Privacy?

But what about your right to privacy? Police say they are careful not to infringe on anyone’s rights.

“Every time we installed a camera system, we went to the neighborhood and said, ‘You know, this is what we’ve thought about doing? Do you want it or not,'” Allen said.

He says police can’t look into a place where someone has the expectation of privacy. But police still have a wide reach, which gives criminals a greater chance of getting caught on camera.

Crime patterns are currently moving and Minneapolis police hope to add more portable cameras. Police believe if criminals know they are being watched they are more likely not to commit crimes.

Reg Chapman

Comments (10)
  1. Tanman says:

    Another reason to keep clear of Minneapolis. Crime is a huge problem in that city but who wants to live in an Orwellian world either.

    1. Crazy Joe says:

      @ moron alert above

      What? I got his comment and it makes sense to me, you must be the one with limited intelligence.

    2. Dude says:

      Exactly. They cite the only two cases where these cameras have helped, out of how many shots fired or other crimes? Keep chasing the symptoms local government, good job! I’ll also add that Mpls. police and these cameras are only there to protect the criminals. I have an idea, turn those cameras off and keep the flat-foots out for a couple of weeks and let the residents take care of the proplem, the cops can come back later and clean up.

  2. Marine 0311 says:

    We are watching sheep!

  3. Marine 0311 says:

    Giving up liberty for security never works, and if we want to be worthy of being called Americans then we need to start standing up for the republic that our forefathers worked so hard to build.

  4. Kathy says:

    i think the cameras are pointed in the wrong direction. The greatest and most frequent crime may be true in the Minnesotal Court Rooms where white collar crime finds it’s great escape.

    Minnesota police are instrumental in the white collar cover-up. Reports of this variety of crime are dismissed per the code of silence.

    Clean up the corruption within the systems, first. Point the cameras in the direction that make all Minnesotans unsafe, and where they once least expected.

  5. Puppies for all says:

    A secret location… Really???
    Two weeks ago they all but gave the address and building layout of the new FBI setup. What makes this place more secret?

  6. Swamp Fox says:

    Big Brother is constantly watching us in one way or another. You can’t go into any retail store like the Big-T without security cameras watching you locally or via wireless in some centralized security center. Wally Market is the same way though not quite as sophisticated.

    Go to London, Ontario, or London, England, and you will be on the local constabulary’s candid cameras for miles. Someone is always watching you when you travel.

    Minneapolis is no exception to the Big Brother rules of observations. Except we the citizenry are just being formally made aware of such actions. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, L.A., Las Vegas, and many other cities have had similar systems watching their cities.

    Just watch any crime show on TV; IE–CSI, NCIS, Leverage, and others; and fictional scenarios, in actuality, are basically true-life realities when it comes to surveillance of the streets. Who knows?

    If it isn’t Minneapolis’s Big Brothers watching you what about the Feds? The satellites, drones, and coordinated video surveillance systems of national and local law enforcement agencies are watching somebody. Who? Even your cellphones, computers, radio telecommunications, and wireless devices etcetera can and probably are monitored by someone.

    Paranoia soon could be the state of mind instilled by all the observations that take place of individuals’ daily lives. George Orwell’s Big Brother is 99.44% upon us and personal privacy is becoming an eroded fact of life.
    Next time you use social media or send video/pictures via cellphone remember somewhere, in some place, in some far or near place Big Brother is watching and knows where you are located. No use trying to hide, Mr. Big will find you. Stay tuned!