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Police seek funds for software that works in conjunction with city's crime surveillance cameras

Toledo councilman questions $380,000 request for data project

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Police Capt. Mike Troendle said the department needs the “advanced analytics software” that would help identify criminal trends, correlate databases, and help predict crime areas.

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The Toledo Police Department wants $380,000 to spend on computer software for its data-driven policing project but, the councilman who is chairman of the department’s oversight committee questioned the expense and held the legislation.

“The testimony today clearly defines that we don’t have the ability to assign crime analysts in order to be able to do the data entry needed for this program,” Councilman D. Michael Collins said after a committee hearing Friday.

Police Capt. Mike Troendle said the department needs the “advanced analytics software” that would help identify criminal trends, correlate databases, and help predict crime areas.

“A lot of the stuff we do is reactive,” Captain Troendle said. “We are trying to be more proactive.”

The data-driven policing program works in conjunction with a system of cameras installed on utility or light poles. About half of the 150 surveillance cameras have been installed. The city will begin installing the remaining cameras in the spring, Captain Troendle said

Police Chief Derrick Diggs announced the program early last year, although it had been in the works since 2008. It was shelved in 2009 when the department laid off 75 officers. The surge in violence in 2011 — shootings soared 73 percent to 210 shootings, from 121 shootings reported in 2010 — made 2012 the right time to move forward, officials said.

Since taking over in October, 2011, Chief Diggs has increased emphasis on data-driven policing.

Command officers told council’s public safety committee Friday that data-driven policing has helped deter crime, improve officers’ response, and enable investigators to solve crimes. Last year, burglaries in Toledo declined 22 percent from 2011, Chief Diggs wrote last month in a op-ed column in The Blade.

Mr. Collins was not convinced the department needs the $380,000 computer program. He said a free program called CrimeStat — a spatial statistics program for the analysis of crime incident locations funded by grants from the National Institute of Justice — is used by other large-city police departments.

“Why can’t we translate that $380,000 into street strength?” he asked. “I don’t care how many cameras you put out. … Cameras don’t put handcuffs on people.”

Mr. Collins also questioned why Toledo did not supply the data for the first half of 2012 to the FBI. “Every other major city in Ohio provided reports,” he said.

Deputy Chief Diana Ruiz-Krause said the department no longer has enough civilian employees to enter data for the reports, but it does meet the annual deadline. She also said the department has 22 vacancies in its communications division.

Mr. Collins said the lack of manpower to enter crime data for the FBI should be considered before embarking on a program that requires data-entry hours.

The legislation was held in committee but could be brought for a vote by council Tuesday.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.

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