Inside SFPD's new high-tech crime-fighting hub

February 21, 2011 11:27:28 PM PST
San Francisco is about to get a high-tech police operations center to help fight crime. It will be only one of a few such state of the art facilities in the country. ABC7 News got an exclusive look at the operation called BRICC.

When a peaceful demonstration suddenly turns ugly, police have to react quickly. But events happen so fast, they may be getting mixed and confusing information.

There's gunfire in the middle of the night. A high-tech gunshot spotter picks it up. More shots are fired nearby. Where's the gunman going? In both situations, for responding officers, every second counts.

"If we have a shooting, or a gang related shooting Saturday night, we can push and pull the information where our night captains can use this facility also to move resources, so this is almost like a 24-hour war room," said interim San Francisco Police Chief Jeff Godown.

Godown says this war room will be able to coordinate police response to crimes as soon as they happen. The facility is in a non-descript building at the foot of Potrero Hill. We promised police not to reveal its location for security reasons.

When it opens, the state of the art facility will be known as BRICC -- the Bay Area Regional Crime Center.

"This will be the 24-hour command post for the SFPD, so there will be officers that will be housed in this facility -- to a certain extent, [they will] have their finger on the pulse of the activity in the city 24 hours a day," said Godown.

BRICC is being built with a million-dollar federal grant.

"This right here is the main hub for any communication that comes through the city," he said.

Godown gave ABC7 an exclusive tour of the facility which will open next month, and he knows all about the concept. He opened a similar operations center two years ago in Los Angeles when he was with the LAPD.

What separates this from ordinary ops centers is that it will be a clearinghouse for up-to-the-minute crime data. It will enable police to respond based on real-time information.

"We have crime mapping data. We can map crime," said Godown. "The analysts will be assigned to push and pull the crime information amongst all 10 districts."

Part of the data will come from the COMPSTAT crime tracking system which former chief, George Gascon, installed two years ago. COMPSTAT figures out the long-term trends in each crime category. It has been a successful police tool.

"I do believe that statistics tell us a great deal and that it offers us an opportunity not only to look at what's happening and react to them, but then to take those statistics on a long-term," said interim San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

BRICC's computers will integrate that with real-time data like shot-spotter and information from 911 calls as they come in. For example, following a series of armed robberies in several neighborhoods, BRICC's computers will map out any previous pattern of robberies there, a description of the car and suspects and their trail to see if a pattern emerges.

"BRICC can then send that information out to the nine districts so everybody is on the same page as to the crime problems," said Godown.

Eventually, the goal is to integrate neighboring police departments to truly make it into a regional crime-fighting center.

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