N. Charleston Police to monitor crime in real-time with 865 cameras

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 5:40 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The North Charleston Police Department will create a Joint Operations Center and add 865 cameras to every main corridor of the city, department officials say.

The center will be created to reduce and solve crime, as well as to keep residents, visitors, and officers safe and informed, according to Deputy Chief Ken Hagge. But he says it’s more than just cameras.

“Being able to reduce crime is huge,” Hagge said. “Being able to keep people safe is the target.”

After visiting over a dozen real-time crime monitoring centers throughout the U.S., the North Charleston Police Department decided to create a unique, “community-based” joint operations center that isn’t just crime-based.

Two dedicated people will be on staff 24/7 to monitor the hundreds of cameras throughout the city in real time. Currently, 120 cameras are in use around the city. All of the locations have been chosen already for the rest of the cameras.

Crime is a big part of the operation, but the cameras and software will also be able to notify residents of traffic alerts, for example, in real-time. To achieve the “full coverage” he wanted, Hagge says residents will be able to get involved by registering their own cameras they may have at their homes or businesses with the police department.

“We want people in every part of the city to be able to sit out on their front porch and be able to talk to their neighbors without fear of being shot by a drive-by shooting,” Hagge said.

From the time they’re given the funding, Hagge says it will take about four months until all the cameras are set up around the city. After that, the new Joint Operations Center will be built. That center doesn’t need to be in place for them to access the cameras.

Hagge says the goal is to be both reactive and proactive, letting the team monitor things that seem abnormal and then addressing it before a possible crime takes place.

“I think we’re 20 years behind technology-wise,” Hagge said. “And now I think we’re 25 years ahead.”

Mayor Pro Tem Jerome Heyward says the cameras will serve as deterrents.

“The cameras don’t lie,” Heyward said. “It’s a great tool, because you can’t dispute the cameras.”

Councilman Mike Brown of District 1 says this could help solve some of the problems he is seeing in his district.

“I know, in my district personally, we have quite a few people trying to break into vehicles,” Brown said. “These things will now be solved because we have eyes when we can’t see.”

Heyward says the project will cost $2.5 million of taxpayer money. It was approved unanimously by the council in its first reading, and it will go to its 2nd and 3rd readings tomorrow. He says he expects it will have no problem getting full approval.

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