Hundreds of tag readers and cameras that cities have installed throughout Volusia County are watching.
Whether you are driving a stolen car, committing a child abduction or committing any of a number of crimes in Volusia, the odds of being caught increased considerably with the opening of the new Volusia County Crime Center (VC3) in Daytona Beach.
VC3 is where analysts and detectives work with technology to solve crimes and generate intelligence for law enforcement in Volusia.
Some cities, such as Daytona Beach, Deltona, DeBary and Ponce Inlet, have tag readers situated whereby you cannot get in or out of the city without them being scanned as you go through intersections. If an alert comes up through the National Crime Information Center or Florida Crime Information Center technicians reviewing the data can alert the 911 communications center to dispatch units.
This could include silver alerts where an elderly person may be missing. Partial tags can also be valuable information and broadcast out in real time. Tip lines can be set up directly at the center as needed.
One of the hopes of Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood is the center can get immediate access to live videos of businesses to potentially watch crime unfold as it happens and intercept those responsible.
There also is a glitch getting real time data from state probation, parole and prison systems into the center.
Sheriff Chitwood would especially like to see all Volusia cities post a a crime analyst at the facility.
“If there is a crime pattern in Ormond, everybody in this room will now be an Ormond Beach police department employee, doing all the research they can to fix that problem,” the sheriff said. “When you have a problem, you will have the full force of this behind you, every piece of technology, every analyst doing research.”
Sheriff Chitwood stated he first developed a small crime center while serving as Daytona Beach Police Chief in 2013 and the sheriff’s office picked it up in 2016. After becoming sheriff in 2017, he said, “We wanted to make this the premier intelligence led policing agency in the State of Florida. These folks are the brains of what goes on. The intelligence link portion to fighting crime. Today we are out of our cramped quarters.”
One of the crime intelligence analysts (whose name was withheld) said, duties include “tying people together to photo lineups on people that are unusual looking or have face tattoos (to) helping Alzheimer’s patients back to their home. We do a lot of supplementing the information for officer awareness and safety.
“Like he was talking about partial tag searches, we solve a lot of hit and runs that way. A lot of victims will have the first few of the tag or the last few of the tag, they’ll know it’s a Nissan Altima or whatever and we’ll be able to find the correct suspect vehicle through the tag reader technology. The sheriff and all of our chain of command is super supportive of us.”
State Sen. Tom Wright, R-New Smyrna Beach, was on hand for the unveiling.
“I’m a proactive guy. Let’s be proactive rather than reactive,” Sen. Wright said. “They are going to be able to tap into any cameras that are in the community that anyone will allow them to use and we are going to make sure we let people know they can work with the sheriff’s office to have their outside cameras connected to the center. I think it’s exciting they can take this technology and help all of us to be safer in the community.
Home security systems also can help, said Sheriff's Capt. Brian Henderson. “The RING cameras that you’ve heard about have been hugely successful at solving crimes. We can put all the technology and all this equipment here, but the people that are sitting at these desks truly make a difference. They solve these crimes from sitting at their desks here because of the technology. They are the unsung heroes.”
Law enforcement agencies can only use camera footage with the permission of the property owner, and VCSO’s two drones (a future drone unit is pending) are only used in special operations, such as live feed scanning of the crowd at local NASCAR races for public safety. VCSO already has video access at some schools.
Besides crime analysts, other law enforcement intelligence units will work out of the $600,000 facility.