New ‘real-time’ Crime Center coming to Albany will aim to allow community involvement

Construction on the new center is expected to be finished in around six months.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 7:40 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany law enforcement will soon get a Crime Center which is expected to help keep track of and fight crime in real-time.

WALB spoke with the Albany Police Department (APD) and they say a system like this has worked well in Atlanta, specifically Cobb County. This new system would get Albany up to speed with crime-fighting tactics.

“The concept of a real-time Crime Center, it takes already existing systems and integrates into one area,” Albany Police Chief Michael Persley said.

Persley says that as they are building this equipment, he hopes to expand to other agencies. The estimated timeline has the center completed within six months.

“Ultimately, we would love to build this into a regional fusion center for Southwest Georgia, to where we can integrate more systems within the law enforcement arena. Not only does it serve Albany-Dougherty County, but so that it can also serve Southwest Georgia,” said Persley.

One of the challenges that law enforcement has faced in the past is having too broad of an area to work when potential crimes happen. Now, information will be more accessible.

“What if we had information that zeroed in on the who or the where? Now, once we deploy our resources, instead of targeting the wrong person or blanketing an entire area, we can be more specific in our efforts,” said Persley.

David Sparks, an APD senior crime analyst, says one of the benefits is being able to see all software platforms in one place; making it easier to communicate with officers.

“Be able to assist the officers out on the street with information before they even get on the scene sometimes. Or, if they are on scene, we could be talking to them via the radio to let them some background of where they are at, and what they are actually walking into,” said Sparks.

Officials say a similar system is being used to fight Atlanta crime.

Fusus is a real-time crime program that has worked well for bigger cities like Atlanta. A new program that will now be a part of the new crime center here in Albany.

“We’ve got to get businesses, apartment complexes, residential areas to buy into partnering with the Fusus platform with the company,” Sparks said.

The community plays a large part in helping to fight crime. One way to help is by partnering with law enforcement when there is video of a possible crime.

One of the benefits to community members taking part in the program is better safety efforts.

“If an owner says yes, you can access it, then we can literally login to the system and download what we need right then and there, and ascertain whether they caught valuable footage to build a case,” said Sparks.

Sparks says there will be a meeting sometime during early June for business owners that would like to learn more.

“What programs may be available for those new businesses just getting started through the police department to get Fusus access. So, there are going to be several avenues they can take to ascertain what is going to meet their needs and assist us with protecting them,” said Sparks.

Persley told WALB that this new program will not reduce crime completely, but it is a first step.

“But what we do know is that the more we can be responsive the more we can be proactive. It can increase community trust in our ability,” said Persley.

Law enforcement officials say this new equipment is the first of its kind in Southwest Georgia.