By Erin Myers
How would Camden survive if surveillance cameras did not exist?
Thankfully, the Camden County Police Department answered that question and showed that Camden has improved thanks to the use of hundreds of cameras around the city.
Police have patrolled the streets of Camden for many years. In the past, officers were enough to patrol the four districts. However, that was not enough to keep the streets of Camden safe. Thus, Camden installed hundreds of cameras around the city over the past few years.
“Every Saturday there’s always a crime going on,” said Sergeant Janell Simpson of the Juvenile Corrections Department.
Sergeant Peter Rogers of the Camden County Police Department said that Camden has over 100 cameras around the city.
Rogers said that the cameras snapped pictures of license plates, which proved to be very helpful when it came to making arrests. With the help of cameras, the police department has installed a virtual patrol. The virtual patrol has allowed officers in the station to patrol anywhere in the city and catch crimes faster.
These cameras also were important when it came to saving lives. Sergeant Rogers said that cameras have made it possible to increase the response time. Rogers said the average response time has been reduced to about three to six minutes.
Rogers approved of cameras around Camden because they make reporting crime easier. Rogers said that there was a lot of arguments, as he called it, “he said, she said.” According to Rogers, cameras take the “grey area” out of crime reporting.
Cameras around Camden have been so helpful they received their own section in the CCPD. This section became known as Real-Time Tactical Operational Intel Cameras, or RT-TOIC. The RT-TOIC was established as a network through which the police have eyes all around the city.
Heaven Henwood has been a part of the RT-TOIC network for a few years. She explained that the RT-TOIC network has four beats with two captains responsible for each beat. The captains at RT-TOIC report the crime as it appears on the network of cameras.
Henwood explained that RT-TOIC has installed 125 cameras around Camden and planned to install 100 more. Henwood said that RT-TOIC is a way to manage crime before it occurs.
Henwood demonstrated her point by showing footage of a robbery in the city. With the cameras, police are able to respond and catch the suspects responsible.
Crime has changed dramatically because of the RT-TOIC network and cameras around Camden. Fewer people have committed crimes because they know that someone is watching. For example, there have been fewer drug arrests in the area as a result of the RT-TOIC network.
“Hotspots change. We’ve been able to change historic drug spots,” Henwood said.
Although crime has not been wiped out completely, it has decreased overall. The decrease has been due to programs such as RT-TOIC and virtual patrols. Thanks to these programs, the streets of Camden have been drug-free and changing for the better.
There has been another program that has been changing Camden called Interactive Community Alert Network or “iCan.” This network has given the ability to send alerts online through the community. This program has allowed residents to report crime or suspicious activity as they see it in their neighborhood. “iCan” has taken images from a street view and allowed residents to see any suspicious activity in the area.
One must register for the “iCan” program and undergo a series of background checks. Residents, Henwood said, are usually eligible within less than a year. Henwood said that over seventy people have applied for the “iCan” program.
Camden has never been without crime. However, programs such as RT-TOIC and “iCan” have been turning that tide. Thanks to “iCan” and RT-TOIC, Camden has not been without hope.