NEW YORK- The New York Police Department on Thursday unveiled a new high-tech command center that will provide officers crucial data about crimes and suspects - including convicts' nicknames and tattoos - even before police arrive at a crime scene.
The $11 million Real Time Crime Center is the first of its kind, and "will transform the way we solve crime," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Once a violent crime is reported, officers will feed the address of the incident, descriptions of suspects and other initial information into a digital data base incorporating millions of crime records and billions of public records. The tools include a registry of nicknames and tattoos of convicted criminals.
The command center also will use satellite imaging and computerized mapping systems to identify geographic patterns of crimes, and to pinpoint possible addresses where suspects might flee _ information that will be relayed to investigators on the street via phone, pager or fax.
The system will "increase the likelihood that we catch the criminals before they strike again," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
The 37,000-officer department, the nation's largest, hopes its latest innovation will help preserve declines in reports of serious crimes over the past decade.
The new command center is "not a panacea, but it can save precious time," Bloomberg said. "It sometimes can mean the difference between life and death."