DC opens Real-Time Crime Center as district tries to crack down on crime

Washington, D.C., opened its Real-Time Crime Center on Monday in a new initiative to curb crime in the district.

Another new initiative connected to the RTCC, CameraConnect D.C., will allow businesses and Washington residents to share security footage with the Metropolitan Police Department in real time. Last year, Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD announced the creation of the RTCC to respond to criminal activity in real time. 

“The policies and strategies we’ve put in place to rebalance our public safety ecosystem are helping us drive down crime, and the Real-Time Crime Center is part of those efforts,” Bowser said. The RTCC is a part of her fiscal 2025 budget. 

The RTCC will be staffed 24/7 with local, regional, and federal law enforcement agencies. 

Nine law enforcement agencies — Amtrak Police, Arlington County Police Department, U.S. Capitol Police, Fairfax County Police Department, Metro Transit Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, U.S. Park Police, Prince George’s County Police Department, and the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division — will work with MPD at the RTCC. 

The RTCC will now be the central location for law enforcement agencies “to collect and analyze data, to enhance situational awareness, and facilitate quick decision-making regarding crimes.” 

With the CameraConnect D.C. initiative, residents with a doorbell or CCTV cameras can register with MPD. When a crime occurs near a registered camera, MPD can request, through the RTCC, real-time footage of the crime. Businesses, apartment complexes, and commercial facilities will also have the ability to integrate their camera footage with MPD. 

“We have been focused, for many years now, on how we expand our network of cameras because we know that video plays a key role in investigating cases and successfully prosecuting criminals. Now, we are calling on residents and businesses to partner with us through CameraConnect D.C. to help us build a safer, stronger D.C.,” Bowser said. 

MPD Police Chief Pamela Smith emphasized the importance of cameras in police work to “identify a suspect” and ensure “the criminal justice ecosystem holds that suspect accountable.” 

“Since Mayor Bowser nominated me to lead the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department, I’ve prioritized getting out into the community and meeting people in the neighborhoods and businesses in the city, and I’m often asked, ‘How can I help?’ Today, we have a new way for you to help: by providing our Real-Time Crime Center with video,” Smith said.

Some groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, have expressed concern that registering cameras is a surveillance oversight. 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

“A center where police watch what people do in the District every hour of every day is an alarming expansion of government surveillance,” ACLU-D.C. Executive Director Monica Hopkins said in a statement

“With no oversight, the real-time surveillance center leaves serious questions about our safety and our rights unanswered. What behavior will police be watching for? What will they do if they think they see it?” Hopkins said. “How will police use what they see, and who will they share it with? And will anyone be there to ensure that police don’t violate people’s rights?”

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