Portsmouth Police use new technology to fight crime

Police will install a system to simplify their access to surveillance cameras in Portsmouth. Leaders also want to buy gunshot detection software.

PORTSmouth, Va. — Law enforcement in Portsmouth is looking to new technology to fight crime.

Police are installing a system to simplify their access to the city’s surveillance cameras. Leaders also want to incorporate gunshot detection software.

The City of Portsmouth has over 400 city-owned cameras for CCTV, traffic or security. More cameras may be on the way.

A new system called Fusus will combine all of that video feed into a single network, Interim Police Chief Stephen Jenkins said in a speech in front of city council members Wednesday night.

“Using this real-time data puts us in the best position to succeed and improve our situational awareness in fighting crime,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins says Fusus has been acquired. The annual subscription fee is $125,000.

“Technology is a force multiplier for us,” he added.

There are also plans to build a “real-time crime center”. Negotiations are still ongoing about whether it will be staffed by employees, volunteers or a combination of the two, Jenkins said.

“That [real-time crime center] will be the focal point for all the video and cameras coming into the city,” Jenkins said.

Meanwhile, police are providing more outreach to the community. This is because partners such as residential complexes, businesses and schools can allow cities to access their respective monitoring feeds as part of the Fusus platform.

“It’s a voluntary system,” Jenkins said.

The executive also mentioned that Fusus has proven successful in other regions such as Atlanta.

It’s all about deterring crime, Jenkins said.

“To say Portsmouth is not a place to commit crime,” he said.

In the same report to parliament on Wednesday, Jenkins also reviewed two gunshot detection software under consideration. He outlines the advantages of ShotSpotter and Flock.

ShotSpotter is already in use in two cities on Hampton Roads; Virginia Beach and Newport News. According to Jenkins, multiple other locations in the Seven Cities are expected to install Flock.

Cost Breakdown of Gun Sound Detection System

  • $245,000/year, one-time installation fee of $45,000
  • $245,000 in recurring costs, including discounts on multi-year contracts
  • $185,000/year, one-time installation fee of $350
  • $90,000 recurring cost with no discount on multi-year contracts

Additionally, Flock offers a license plate reader system, which is also under consideration.

Additionally, Jenkins told 13News Now that the distribution of free doorbell cameras is already underway. Applicants selected through the lottery system do not have to register their cameras with the city, but we strongly encourage them to do so.

“Everyone has a role and a role to play,” said Darrell Redmond, a local anti-violence activist and founder of the nonprofit Give Back 2 Da Block.

He said he liked the technology initiatives; however, he said he would like to see city leaders focus more on other strategies available.

“I believe in intervention and prevention, by bringing in grassroots organizations to do things where we don’t have to use cameras,” Redmond said.

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