"Criminals should be concerned," said Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso at the official unveiling Monday of the office's Real Time Crime Center — the only one of its kind in the entire state of Louisiana.
In a room not much bigger than a standard living room, a dozen or more television screens don an entire wall while detectives and deputies man the seven triple-monitor workstations behind it.
"The new system takes all computer- and video-generated information and funnels it through this room to give to the deputies in real time to help them solve cases," Mancuso said. "For instance, we can see where every unit is in the parish right now. Not just the sheriff's units, but we're linked with 911 so we can see LCPD's units, we can see Sulphur Police Department, we can see other units within our parish."
The Real Time Crime Center has been a few years in the making, and one of the first steps in its creation was the installment of license plate readers parishwide.
"These license plate readers, or LPR, are not like what you see in a lot of other communities where they send you an E-ticket. These are for law enforcement use only. They are not sending tickets to people with violations; it's to look for specific vehicles that we may be looking for and for stolen vehicles," Mancuso said.
In the 2018 CPSO fiscal year, there were 37 stolen vehicles recovered. In 2019, since July 1, CPSO has recovered 44 stolen vehicles with the assistance of this new center and its ability to give officers real-time information.
Stolen vehicles notwithstanding, the new technology has proven essential in the swift resolution of a number of crimes across the parish, including ATM theft, drug crimes and even homicides, Mancuso said.
This advanced system of crime fighting also provides for real time officer safety. With links to all CPSO unit dash and body cameras, if an officer encounters trouble in the field, help can be on the way within seconds and in situations where every minute counts and the time saved can save lives.
"Let's say the office is out there in the field, and they don't always have time to radio back to dispatch with information. These folks can actually listen in on the call and start inputting information right there for the officer. They can run the name of the perpetrator, or they can even switch to social media within these computers and start monitoring that to find out what's going on with that particular person," Mancuso said.
"This crime center integrates all of our technology to give the deputies, at their fingertips, in real time, information that they may have waited 24 hours for, or more, before. These folks are actually doing that right now."
Mancuso put the cost in the multiple millions. But because the system provides assistance to other agencies, and not just the CPSO, he visualizes that down the road, other agencies will want to contract with the department to have their own dedicated person, just for them, right there on site, which could potentially offset the cost sometime in the future.
"This is mostly a big city thing," Mancuso said. "But with the growth here in Calcasieu Parish and all that we are dealing with, and technology, we felt that it was important for us to get with the times and open a real time crime center here."