One year after launching one of the most comprehensive city surveillance systems in the country, the Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) has seen a 21% drop in overall crime.
The system is the Real Time Watch Center, a network of CCTV cameras, auto- matic license plate readers and drones that allows the department to keep a constant eye on all corners of the city.
It was launched in June 2022 on the heels of an alarming spike in “smash and grab” crimes and property theft. Since then, property crime has decreased by 20% and violent crime by 27%, according to data provided by BHPD.
Police Chief Mark Stainbrook highlighted the success of the Real Time Watch Center at the June 27 city council meeting.
“To date 60 different cities and police departments and over 250 people have come to see the Real Time Watch Center because they recognize that it really is the future of policing and security throughout the United states,” said Stainbrook.
“Our main goal was to reduce our times for calls for service and interdict criminal activity. The bottom line is we always want to keep crime down in BH,” he added.
During the meeting Stainbrook thanked the virtual patrol operators for the hard work they do monitoring surveillance footage from inside the center.
Virtual patrol operators monitor the center’s CCTV cameras 24/7 and its drone cameras for the 12 hours they fly every day. They received city commendations from the council during Tuesday’s meeting.
“Thank you to all our awardees, we really appreciate all you do to keep our community safer,” said Mayor Dr. Julian Gold.
The virtual patrol operators identify the location and details of crime in real-time both by proactively viewing footage and listening to live 911 calls. They then provide this intelligence to officers in the field who can respond swiftly and strategically.
Stainbrook gave a recent example of a daylight robbery where virtual operators were able to tell police officers in the field what car the suspected perpetrators were in.
“The officers were then able to conduct a high-risk traffic stop and arrest all four individuals in the vehicle, recover weapons and property and put these people where they needed to be: in jail,” said Stainbrook. “This couldn’t be done without our virtual patrol operators.”
The suspects had committed seven other street robberies the same day and two were wanted for homicide in Oakland. Their arrest is just one of many success stories enabled by the Real Time Watch Center.
Over the past year virtual patrol officers have had the first eyes on a scene 9,042 times by using CCTV cameras and 1,804 times by using drone footage.
The center’s automatic license plate readers have also served as a powerful tool in responding to crime. Over the past year the readers have assisted in 62 arrests and the recovery of 110 stolen vehicles.
Given the success of the center, the department intends to expand it in several ways over the next year. This includes adding more cameras and license plate readers and working to provide real-time footage to officers in the field.
“Next year we are working on full situational awareness between the Real Time Watch Center and units in the field so every officer, via their phone or their computer, will have access to the cameras, the drones and be able to see everything that the Real Time Watch Center sees,” said Stainbrook.
Lastly, the department is also adding a Crime Analyst and Crime Analyst Supervisor to help review data from the center. These positions are budgeted for in the Fiscal Year 2023 to 2024 budget, which was also approved at the council meeting.
More details on the budget and city priorities for the upcoming fiscal year are covered in a separate front page Courier article this week.