Dunedin crimefighting HQ has all bells and whistles

District Command Centre deployment co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Craig Brown keeps an eye on what...
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

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