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City of Coatesveille, PA

March 14 2016
Case Study • March 2016
City of Coatesville, PA
Coatesville collage

Background

John Laufer was hired as the Chief of Police for the City of Coatesville in January, 2013. At the time, he says the city did not have a functioning street surveillance camera system because the previous one was of inferior quality and had ceased working. He also shares, "Coatesville is the only city in Chester County. It is just under two square miles," and he indicates that as of the latest census in 2010, the population was around 13,000 or more, and surpasses 14,000 currently.

"As far as the crime picture goes ... [the preceding year 2012] was unfortunately a very violent year for the city of Coatesville. They had seven homicides. For a city of 14,000 and a little under two square miles, that's quite considerable. Most of those homicides occurred on the streets, so there was obviously a need for a dedicated street surveillance camera system that was functional and operational. That was the picture ... when I first got here in January of 2013."

He continues, "Recognizing the need for a new system, I had read a couple articles on the City of Lancaster being one of the most surveilled cities in the country at the time ... so I reached out to [them] and was informed that App-Techs was the company providing that service. I got in touch with App-Techs, and they sent down representatives. I was very impressed with the level of expertise that was presented, and decided to go with App-Techs as our provider for our street camera surveillance system."

"Historically, a very large percentage of all the homicides ... come back to the drug trade," states the chief. "Violent street crime is directly correlated to the drugs in the city. The cameras were also meant to try to attack the underlying causal factor, which is the drug trade in the City of Coatesville.


Solutions

The City of Coatesville had an ample supply of Fluid Mesh wireless radios already in-stock when App-Techs began working with them, which we determined to be functional and were able utilize, maximizing cost-effectiveness for the city in our deployment.

Point-to-point networking from one radio location to another provides wireless transmission of data throughout the business district, and back to the police station server. We employ POE pass-through, one injector powering a radio, and that device in turn powering another. When the need for more radios has arisen over time, we have supplied them with new Ubiquiti radios.

App-Techs has also equipped Coatesville with a central recording server at the police station, one of our EasyNVR Standard servers. Numerous Panasonic cameras provide outdoor street surveillance coverage. The system monitors a public park as well.

Additionally, the city is our only client currently using the Axis Q6000e/Q6044e camera, which provides a 360-degree view of an intersection. It also offers PTZ functionality, so users can change the field of view and zoom in on an area.

Results

Chief Laufer says, "There are so many different factors that figure into your crime rate ... but since 2013 — and the implementation of the camera system didn't occur until September of 2013 — we went three years without a homicide. We just had our first homicide since I took over as Chief of Police in October of 2015. The camera system was instrumental in clearing that homicide. Within 24 hours, we had five individuals in custody, and the homicide was cleared."

"We have a lot of anecdotal evidence where we've utilized the street cameras to help us clear a lot of different types of crimes. One of the most recent ones ... is actually a homicide out of Lancaster County. The detectives got hold of our detectives with some of the investigative information they had, providing a vehicle description to us and a partial tag. We were able to come up with a possible complete tag number. We used our ELSAG tag reader system, and immediately got a hit from the tag reader having previously read that tag in the City of Coatesville — so we had the date, time and GPS location that the tag had been read. We figured out the street location, then we went to our street surveillance camera system, pulled up the video for the date, time and location ... were able to identify the vehicle, identify the driver, and clear the homicide for Lancaster. That's an example where everything came together — the tag reader, some good, old-fashioned detective work, and then utilizing the camera system — and so we assisted Lancaster in clearing their homicide. It was just this past fall that happened."

"We have access to all of our cameras through our smartphones utilizing the mobile Milestone app. We find that pays great dividends. We're very pleased with it. When our drug unit is out working the street, they can immediately access the cameras real-time ... which helps them conduct operations and surveillance." Laufer goes on to share that this mobile technology is also useful for something as simple as inclement weather, allowing him to use his smartphone in the comfort of his own home, viewing street conditions and traffic flow on major roads in the city. If he gets a text message reporting a shooting, "I can just jump on the phone and I'll pull up a live picture of the intersection where the shots were fired. We use it quite frequently and we're very happy with it."

"We've been very satisfied with the tech support we've been given, whether it's the techs being able to remote in and troubleshoot from afar ...or they send a technician out in a very timely fashion, making repairs or changes. Every time we call, they're always very receptive to any of our new initiatives and technical questions." He continues, "We've added cameras to our initial system. We've switched it up a little bit, and gone with some new technology. Some of our cameras are the four-way, fixed camera with the PTZ ... which gives us a little better coverage at our busier locations. We're very satisfied with the equipment and the way it's held up."

Laufer foresees future possibilities for expansion of Coatesville's surveillance camera system. "One of the advantages we were initially sold on was the fact that the system is constantly scalable and expandable, and will grow with the city. Hopefully, as we get some more money or grant funding, we can add cameras and change locations." App-Techs looks forward to a continued, positive working relationship with the city in the months and years ahead.

To learn more about how App-Techs can help your organization, call (717) 735-0848, contact us, or visit our website.