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Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Chicago Police Department (CPD) Superintendent Eddie Johnson today announced the launch of two new Area Technology Centers (ATC) in Area Central and Area North, expanding the strategic crime-solving nerve centers to each of the Department's three Detective Areas. Allowing detectives to process videos faster from private surveillance cameras and cellphone footage, the ATCs represent a critical component to CPD's efforts to increase the clearance rate for homicides and non-fatal shootings in Chicago, especially in the neighborhoods experiencing the highest rates of violence.
“When crimes aren’t solved, the relationship between officers and the community frays, collaboration weakens, and trust wanes,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Investing in our detectives is more than just about better protecting evidence, expediting investigations and increasing clearance rates, it’s about providing families who have lost a loved one to the scourge of gun violence with the answers they deserve.”
Prior to obtaining the new technology, CPD detectives worked with limited resources and tools to retrieve, review, and analyze video evidence quickly. Building on the City's investments in the Department’s smart policing strategy, ATCs were developed as a solution to the lack of technology and resources for detectives to process video and cellphone digital evidence.
"The investments in our detective bureau will enhance our crimefighting capabilities, and continue improving the clearance rate throughout Chicago," said Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson. "The ATCs will not only have a positive impact on the Department's ability to keep our neighborhoods safe but will also help strengthen our relationships with the communities we serve and bolster the judicial process when prosecuting crimes with the support of strong video evidence."
Earlier this year, CPD's Bureau of Detectives and the University of Chicago Crime Lab partnered to pilot an ATC at Area South following an early period of fact-finding where it became clear that in many homicide investigations quality video was key to a successful case outcome. The work being completed by the ATCs has already played an integral role in the charging of several homicide cases. Since its opening in late February 2019, Area South's ATC has processed over 700 case requests, providing detectives with evidence to develop new investigative leads and assist with the prosecution of homicide suspects.
“We are honored to partner with the City on this ambitious effort to save lives and improve communities, and we are thankful to philanthropist Ken Griffin whose support enabled this important work for people in Chicago,” said Roseanna Ander, Executive Director of the University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs. “Far too many of our city’s residents need a safer environment to live and work, and we need to ensure that the hardworking detectives of the Chicago Police Department have the tools and support they need.”
"The successful investigations supported by Area South's ATC have helped our approach to video evidence collection and analysis throughout the rest of Chicago," said CPD Bureau of Detectives Chief Melissa Staples. "Every detective throughout Chicago now has access to video capabilities that will help solve crimes and keep our neighborhoods safe."
Building on CPD's efforts to foster community trust in the Department, the ATCs will allow teams to work with residents and local businesses to operate video systems or extract footage when there is an incident near their home or business. The new technology tool converts third-party video into a play-anywhere format and recovers lost videos from local businesses, homeowners and residents that detectives were unable to retrieve in the past due to the lack of proper equipment.
“Partnerships between police officers and the community is built on mutual respect, accountability and an understanding that the destinies of police and community are inextricably intertwined,” said Alderman Taliaferro, chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “Today’s announcement represents one more step in the City’s new, proactive strategy to partner with the communities to address the violence in our neighborhoods together."
The ATC is a physical room, modeled in part after the successful Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSC), that includes a newly installed suite of technology designed to improve the processing of digital evidence, especially raw video footage. The ATCs are staffed by trained officers and detectives who support homicide investigations, for example, by locating and downloading pertinent videos at the crime scene and coordinating with nearby SDSC rooms to collect and disseminate relevant evidence.