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ISC West 2011 -- Las Vegas police look for ease of use in camera systems

Las Vegas Metro PD

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) has learned to implement complex video surveillance systems in many different environments and for many duties, but still requires equipment that is readily and easily adapted to those many different roles, according to one of the detectives that coordinates the technology for the city.

In a presentation outlining Las Vegas’ wireless municipal surveillance capabilities at ISC West 2011 on April 7, LVMPD Detective Chris Grandy said his department has become expert at installing and using wireless camera systems, but still requires equipment that is relatively uncomplicated and versatile.

The LVMPD, he said, uses wireless camera systems in many ways, including covert observation, crime deterrence, SWAT applications, and special event monitoring. Special events, he said, are particularly important, but complex. Since Las Vegas hosts many special events, from large public gatherings like the National Basketball Association’s championship game, the NCAA college basketball tournament, and NASCAR events, to less well-known events like motorcycle rallies.

In fact, said Grandy, the use of wireless video surveillance systems began after a riot in 2003 in nearby Laughlin, NV, when two people were killed in a casino shootout between rival Hells Angels and Mongols motorcycle gangs.

The “Laughlin River Run” motorcycle event that spawned the shootout typically brings in 60,000 to 80,000 people, said Grandy. After the fatal shootout, the department saw it needed more detailed and extensive video surveillance capabilities.

Since the shootout, Grandy said the department has learned how to deploy temporary wireless camera systems that can be adapted by the police department’s IT team and other specialists. At first it only deployed four analog cameras on hotel rooftops in the area during the event.

This year’s Laughlin River Run in late April will see the deployment of 10 high definition, IP-based H.264 cameras in the area in a networked configuration using both wireless and point to point links, he said.

The department is also increasing deployment of high definition cameras in high-crime areas of the city, including an area surrounding the 15th St. and Fremont Ave. corridor.  Since the installation of the camera, crime has dropped in the area. “It’s debatable if the cameras redirected crime to other unobserved areas,” said Grandy. “The drug dealers in the area probably moved their operations indoors, making it look like they’ve gone,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said, their absence has given law-abiding area residents a new positive feeling about the neighborhood. “Sixty percent said they thought crime had declined in the area” when they were surveyed, he said. “There was a feeling that things were different after the cameras were installed. The neighborhood wants more cameras installed. We’re putting in five more,” he said.


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