Police Chiefs Champion Municipal Video Surveillance

ADT Security Services recently hosted its 4th annual Media Summit, this year in Dallas, which I attended and covered in another Under Surveillance posting. One of the many presentations I sat in on involved some local police chiefs discussing the municipal surveillance systems that have been put into service within their jurisdictions. I thought they provided interesting perspectives and wanted to share them with you here in the only in depth coverage of this session of which I am aware.
This blog is an extension of sorts of the end-user roundtable article in the November issue of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION that also includes the three gentlemen featured below. First, former Bryan, Texas, Police Chief Tyrone Morrow and current Deputy Police Chief Peter Scheets discuss the particulars of the surveillance system deployed in their city, then McGregor, Texas, Police Chief Steve Foster follows with his city’s story. Morrow stepped down in 2007 and was instrumental in Bryan’s electronic security success.
Throughout this presentation, the Bryan and McGregor factions traded friendly and amusing barbs about which city is to become the safest in Texas. The “Sam” they refer to is Sam Sutherland, senior manager state & local government accounts for ADT. I hope you find their tales enjoyable and useful.
CASE STUDY No. 1: Bryan, Texas
Tyrone Morrow, Ex-Police Chief:
Bryan is the sister city to College Station, which at 50,000 Aggies strong is the biggest metropolitan university and the area’s economic engine. We have about 75,000 citizens that live there – that’s the documented ones. We have another undocumented population, somewhere between 25,000 to 30,000 that still has to have these services. Those police services have to be precise and it has to be done correctly. The Bryan Police Department is about 132 strong sworn police officers of men and women who put themselves in harm’s way every single day. When I took over as chief of Bryan’s police department, I brought with me a foundation of working in a large metropolitan police department and seeing what technology could do to help law enforcement agencies combat those who would want to do us all harm. I spent 25 years with the Fairfax County Police Department in Fairfax County, Va., which is outside of Washington, D.C. In that capacity, our agency had the availability to be involved in a lot of national and international cases that were solved using technology. For example, Fairfax County was one of the first institutions in this country to employ the LiveScan system, which takes the fingerprints of individuals taken into custody. I was part of the technology group that brought that in. What LiveScan did for us was when we locked somebody up for some criminal offense, we would take their prints digitally and automatically get a read on who they were. A lot of times, if you take their prints manually, you’ve got to send them away and you’ve got to wait for them to come back. By the time you got to know who they were, they’re already gone. LiveScan solved that problem.
Ex-Bryan, Texas, Police Chief Tyrone Morrow (left) and current Deputy Chief Peter Scheets.

Our department also worked with other agencies in the region. We had the D.C. Sniper. Technology helped us solve that. CCTV cameras were able to help us resolve that. After 9/11, we had tons of anthrax scares across the country. Fairfax County dealt with a lot of that. CCTV and some of this technology helped us resolve some of those cases. So, with that, I brought to Bryan, Texas, an understanding of how this integration can have an impact where it can make a community safe. I am, what I would call, the visionary. I am the individual that has to get in there and has to do the political stuff to get us to where we need to go. Deputy Chief Peter Scheets beside me – if you want to know anything about this project, talk to him because he is the man behind the scenes that we as an agency and a city put in place. He got it done for us, and he got it done superbly and the progress is ongoing. What you have to understand is at this level when you’re talking about spending public dollars on technology you better first have a good vision. Two, you better have money. And three, you better work the system to your advantage. If you don’t have any of those three, your project is going to be dead on arrival.
So the goal with what we did is we identified the vision and where we wanted Bryan to be. Our vision was simple. It came from interviews from all the police officers, the staff that worked in the police department, the political structure there, the school systems, the churches – everyone basically. The bottom line: our vision is making Bryan the safest city in Texas. If everyone was behind that vision, all we needed to do was put a plan together to take us in that direction. This was just one component of that plan. Part two is the politics. How do you achieve that? By spending time with all those entities that I just described. In short, they bought into the process by acknowledging the need to help us establish the vision. So now it’s part of their game plan. They own it. So when I come to them and say, ‘Hey, we need an extra $5 to do this,’ and they say, ‘Well, we can’t do that,’ I say, ‘Well, aren’t you committed to the vision we all wrote together?’ So it’s very hard for those from the political structure to say no because they’re already onboard by the mere fact of committing to this.
So now we’ve got the vision and we’ve got the political structure in place, and we know we’re moving in the right direction. Now it becomes an issue of A) finding the money, and B) having the right partnerships. The money initially was easy for us because I took some asset forfeiture money we had set aside where we took the criminals’ stuff away from them and sold it. We took the proceeds and put it into an account. We made a decision to use it as seed money. Remember that I’m the visionary and I’ve got to play politics. So I’m going to use my money first, and then I’m going to go back to the politicians and say, ‘I used mine; I’m out. Can I please use some of yours?’ We need to finish this project out because it’s already ongoing and we don’t want to compromise and have to go back to our citizens and say, ‘We’re out of money, but aren’t we committed to the vision of making Bryan the safest city in the great state of Texas?’

So now I’ve got the three questions or problems I need solved upfront. So now I’m thinking, ‘OK, whom do we choose as a partner? Who is going to provide surveillance systems to make Bryan the safest city in the great state of Texas? What it comes down to is relationships. People stay with people, or pick people, because they h

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