Miami-Dade County

New Tool Helps Police Nab Criminals in Real Time

A new crime-fighting tool is helping monitor neighborhoods through security cameras across Miami-Dade County.

As Miami-Dade Police were testing the new tool, they were really put to the test when they ended up watching a real crime unfold.

Moises Hernandez was trying to leave for work on July 15 when he suffered gashes to his head. He got to the front gate of his Northwest Miami-Dade home and two groups of carjacking criminals jumped him.

"Let me know they were serious. I let them know the car was running and they took off with my car," Hernandez said.

Within hours, police spotted the stolen vehicle and that's where the high-tech room at the Miami-Dade Police Department came into play.

It's called the Real Time Crime Center.

"The Real Time Crime Center was in the process of experimenting with the HUD camera system," said Det. Romelio Martinez.

From the room, techs have control of numerous public housing cameras at Liberty Square. They can zoom and rotate cameras to particular action in the neighborhood 

Here's what they saw in Hernandez's neighborhood: "The suspects threw the fire alarm out of the vehicle and then attempted to flee from detectives on foot."

They ran behind the house with officers close behind. One suspect hid on the porch. Cameras caught him changing his clothes.

Techs at the command center were able to tell detectives exactly where he was hiding. It's what the Real Time Crime Center is all about.

"Detection technologies as well as being able to monitor all of our different databases in order to provide assistance to police officers responding to an emergency call," said Commander Jose Rivero.

This incident netted three gun-toting, alleged car thieves ranging in age from 14 to 25.

Hernandez got his car back, a little more banged up than when he last saw it. 

While some may feel the cameras at the control of law enforcement eyes are a little big brother-ish, or a privacy invasion, Hernandez is comforted by them.

"Because of that technology, my car was able to be taken back to me within a couple of days," he said.

The police department is expanding its center with not only more space, but more people and technology. They're also hoping to expand with more cameras throughout the county.

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