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Citywide camera system slashes crime in real-time

135 cameras installed around Denver, Colo. record imagery constantly

By Lt. Ernest Martinez
Denver Police Department

A sophisticated, citywide camera system has proved instrumental in fighting crime in Denver.

Prompted by the need for surveillance in highcrime areas, the first cameras for the H.A.L.O., or High Activity Location Observation system, were installed in Denver about five years ago. The system is funded through private donations, asset forfeiture funds and federal grants, according to Lt. Ernest Martinez.

"We wanted an open architecture scalable technology that would not need a forklift upgrade in five years," Martinez says. "We developed our own requirements to ensure an overarching crime suppression and investigation tool, as well as a first responder asset."

The program includes 135 cameras in the city. Imagery is recorded continuously and retained for 30 days. Portable tactical cameras are available for SWAT and hostage negotiation situations. The camera system also integrates to the city’s public schools, which police monitor only in the event of an incident. The system also integrates to traffic cameras. In addition to crime fighting, the cameras can help coordination response in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.

The system includes real-time, high resolution video and helps the department dedicate resources to hot spot areas. Imagery is sent to a central wireless repository at police headquarters. Officers can view video from the field.

"Since installing the H.A.L.O. system, we've seen a drop in crime from between 5 percent to 45 percent," Martinez says. "Neighborhood surveys have revealed that citizens love these cameras and don’t want them to go away. Also, it takes up to 50 percent less time to investigate and prosecute crimes with video in hand, establishing a quick return on investment."

For more information, contact Lt. Ernest Martinez at ernest.martinez@denvergov.org

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