Inside the Seattle Police Department’s latest crime-fighting tool

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Police Department on Wednesday unveiled the Real Time Crime Center (RTCC), a high-tech hub that brings data analysts and police together in one room to help improve public safety.

Those inside the room see an instant, visual representation of crime across the city, allowing them to help officers respond faster and more efficiently to 911 calls, according to the department’s chief operating officer, Mike Wagers.

“We’re trying to do things to make the department as responsive as possible to the community, and as responsive as possible to our officers,” he said. “It’s not going to solve all the problems, but it’s going to help us take all the data and the information we have and figure out, ‘Are we deploying as efficiently and as effectively as possible?’”

The RTCC is part of what the department calls its “Agile Policing Strategy” – an attempt to streamline the department’s efforts and use data-driven policing to help fight crime more effectively and make the most of limited resources.

“Agile Policing leverages the combined skills of career police officers and civilian crime analysts,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “With the Real Time Crime Center at the hub, this innovative, data-driven approach will enhance police service in all Seattle neighborhoods.”

On a massive wall of screens at the front of the room, analysts and investigators in the RTCC watch in real-time as calls come in around the city. Calls are sorted by priority – Priority 3 being the lowest and Priority 1 being the highest.

“A commander is here during the day and at night, while the center is operational, making real time decisions about how we deploy our resources,” Wagers said.

The screens provide a visual representation of how many patrol units are available and where those units are in the city using GPS. Those in the room can also see how many people are still waiting for a police response.