Dunedin crimefighting HQ has all bells and whistles

District Command Centre deployment co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Craig Brown keeps an eye on what is happing across the Southern district. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
District Command Centre deployment co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Craig Brown keeps an eye on what is happing across the Southern district. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Welcome to the DCC - the new crime-fighting District Command Centre.

Based on an upper level of the Dunedin Police Station, the new centre pulsates with new technology.

Smartphones and tablets are on desks, rows of computer screens detail police jobs, and an entire wall of monitors displays CCTV footage, electronic maps and even the latest mugshot.

Southern district commander Superintendent Andrew Coster said the new centre, introduced before Christmas, helped monitor police deployment across Otago and Southland. Command centre staff helped frontline police in the prevention of crime, coupled with ensuring preventive tasks had been completed by staff.

For example, centre staff could send a mugshot of wanted offenders or a screenshot of a person spotted on CCTV to officers on their smart devices.

In turn, that smart technology meant officers could send photographs and video from a crime scene to the senior sergeants manning the centre.

Meanwhile, information from the public, such as jobs via the crime reporting line, coupled with information provided by police intelligence helped those deployment co-ordinators spot trends developing in real time. Supt Coster said the large electronic map gave police a snapshot of the district, which helped in the deploying of staff for jobs such as road policing.

Since the system went live, the most serious incident was an armed offenders callout in Gore.

While that case was before the courts, the incident showed the new centre in action by ensuring the right resources were allocated to the event, the correct people and agencies were notified, and media calls fielded.

Following yesterday's accident involving a petrol tanker and a pedestrian in central Dunedin, deployment co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Craig Brown contacted the Dunedin City Council to change traffic light phasing and clear a backlog of diverted traffic.

Inspector Jason Guthrie, the Southern district deployment manager, said when the unit was fully operational, there would be six deployment co-ordinators.

He said a new software platform would allow staff to soon send mass alerts to specific groups, whether it be media, accommodation providers, petrol stations and the like to warn or provide any information about a trend.

Supt Coster said looking back a decade, police work was largely reactive; the public would call about a crime and officers would be called to investigate.

''We still do that, but more and more, we are are able to understand what is happening in terms of patterns.''

The District Command Centre meant police did not look at an event in isolation.

''We ask if there is some opportunity in the way we deal with this event to sort it out and put in place a longer-term solution''.

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

Great, but what about traffic enforcement?

No one would criticise anything the Police can do to lower crime around the region, so it is good to see this new innovation.

However, I think the very sad tanker verses pedestrian incident is a prime example of reactive policing in regards to traffic enforcement, rather than proactive.  I drove past this incident, and counted no less than seven police cars attending.  Again, you can't criticise how many police respond to a serious incident like this, but why is it I can often drive into, out of, and around the city area up to 40+ times each week, and sometmes not see one single Police Patrol enforcing driving standards?

Yesterday I drove my family to near Alexandra and back, and despite coming across numerous vehicles crossing the centre line, vehicles overtaking dangerously, tailgating, travelling at speeds in excess of 120 to 130kms per hour, we didn't see one single Police patrol!   Even our youngest child once commented during the drive "Why don't they have Police down here Daddy, these drivers are so dangerous?"

Having lived in many other centres around New Zealand, I can say with confidence that in virtually every single one you can't drive anywhere for more than say five minutes without passing at least one Police Patrol.  In Dunedin, you can drive around for an hour or longer without seeing one.  

Before all the bad drivers who don't want tickets jump on here and say 'nothing wrong with Dunedin drivers', and 'Police here do a great job with traffic enforcement', keep in mind the statistics, which show without any doubt New Zealand's worst drivers are located in - Dunedin.  With the highest intersection crash rate in NZ, you would expect to see very high proactive traffic policing, with a zero tolerance approach, instead we see Police seemingly ignore the horrendous drivers and accordingly we read about accident after accident in the media.


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