When a 911 call comes in, St. Louis police now may be able to see the scene before officers have time to arrive. It’s part of the Real Time Crime Center, opened yesterday to bring together an array of electronic resources, including a network of public and private surveillance cameras that could put eyes on a location within seconds, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Eight officers and a sergeant will run the around-the-clock operation inside police headquarters. They will have access to data from cameras, license plate readers, red light cameras, hot-spot crime mapping and the ShotSpotter microphone system that can track the source of gunfire. “Today is a great day for law enforcement and a bad day for criminals in the city of St. Louis,” said Chief Sam Dotson.
John Chasnoff of the activist organization Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression, called it “a spy hub for the whole city of St. Louis.” He was among about 20 protesters gathered outside headquarters as officials toured the center. “This is a big step toward mass surveillance of the city's population,” Chasnoff complained. “People going about their business who have given no indication they have committed an offense are still being watched by their government and police.” Dotson sees the center as the linchpin of a safer community, helping police fight and prevent crime. It puts his department in line with dozens of police agencies with similar capabilities, including Chicago, Houston and Kansas City.