New center helps police, prosecutors more effectively solve, reduce and prevent crime
Technology and equipment for the Center supported by $164,000 state investment
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of a new state-of-the-art Crime Analysis Center in the city of Niagara Falls that extends New York's innovative intelligence and data sharing network to the Canadian border. The center – one of seven supported by New York State in partnership with local law enforcement agencies – assists police, prosecutors, probation and parole by developing information that allows them to better investigate, reduce and prevent crime.
"The digital age has ushered in an unprecedented amount of data that now enables law enforcement to develop trends and analyze crime patterns," Governor Cuomo said. "The Niagara Crime Analysis Center is the latest example of our statewide efforts to allow investigators to work smarter and more efficiently when it comes to solving crimes and making our communities safer."
The Niagara Crime Analysis Center is located at the Niagara Falls Police Department, and represents a partnership among the Niagara Falls Police, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, the Niagara County District Attorney's Office and the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. Thanks to a $164,000 state investment for technology and equipment, the facility features a 12-foot by 6½-foot video wall that displays multiple sources of information, including a computer aided dispatch log and video from public surveillance cameras.
The Center is staffed by two crime analysts and two field intelligence officers who are employed by the Niagara Falls Police and Sheriff’s and DA's offices. Staff access a wide variety information that they synthesize and compile – often in real time – and then they provide that intelligence to investigators in the field to solve crime. Staff also develop detailed analyses and maps of crime "hot spots" and calls for service, allowing agencies to more effectively deploy staff, and support prosecutors as they prepare cases for trial.
Niagara Center staff can access information from the Niagara Falls Police, the Sheriff's Office, District Attorney’s Office, Niagara County Probation Department, and the police departments in Lockport and North Tonawanda. As with the state’s other centers, the Niagara facility is overseen by a board of local law enforcement officials and a representative from the Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The other Centers are located in Erie, Monroe, Onondaga, Broome and Albany counties, and a seventh center will be fully operational in late summer in Franklin County, serving that county and four others in North Country: Clinton, Essex, Jefferson and St. Lawrence. The Niagara Center, along with the North Country Center, will provide law enforcement agencies with additional resources to enhance the state’s international border security.
Division of Criminal Justice Services Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said, "We've seen first-hand how well the crime analysis center model works. These centers have helped police do everything from solve murders to help locate a mental health patient who went missing. And while there is no replacement for good old-fashioned police work, the centers serve as an invaluable resource officers can use to bring investigations to a quick resolution."
State Senator Rob Ortt said, "Having a Crime Analysis Center in Niagara County is another vital tool to aid law enforcement in protecting the community. It will provide agencies with invaluable information virtually at the same time illegal activity is happening. Ultimately, this center will help crack down on crime, and help investigators come to resolute conclusions more efficiently."
Assemblyman John Ceretto said, "The Niagara County Crime Analysis Center will provide our brave law enforcement with necessary tools to help fight crime – tools that will prove invaluable on the international border and in the digital age. The center will allow our officers here in Niagara County to be proactive and keep our residents safe. We must continue to provide local law enforcement with the tools required to protect our community."
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "As criminals become more sophisticated the tools we give to law enforcement must continue to evolve. The effective collection, analysis, and sharing of information is vital to ensuring the safety of our communities. Today's opening the Niagara Crime Analysis Center further strengthens our partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies by enhancing our ability to use advanced analytics to catch the bad guys."
Niagara Falls Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto said, "My department is committed to providing a safe community and fighting crime in all of Niagara County. The Center's state-of-the-art technology and real-time crime analysis will give crime fighters the much needed tactical and strategic edge over those who wish to conduct illegal activity in our neighborhoods. The Niagara Falls Police Department is honored to partner with our law enforcement colleagues and thank Governor Cuomo and DCJS for their leadership and support of law enforcement in Niagara County and across the state."
The state invests about $5.5 million annually on personnel and technology to support the Crime Analysis Center network. In addition to being connected to each other, the seven state-supported Centers have access to information from locally supported centers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. The New York State Police, state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Department of Motor Vehicles, and federal Probation Department also permit all state-supported Centers to access information they maintain. This network results in nearly 70 percent of all crime data in the state outside of New York City accessible for tactical, strategic and administrative analysis and dissemination.
The Crime Analysis Centers have provided police and prosecutors with invaluable information. For example:
- The Erie Crime Analysis Center provided critical, real-time information for authorities tracking down a homicide suspect in Buffalo in March 2013. Center analysts helped detectives quickly identify and then track down a suspect in the brutal killing of a 38-year-old woman, who was beaten to death and lit on fire. The center’s work helped police apprehend the killer at a Rochester bus station about three hours after the homicide was reported.
- Testimony from an analyst at the Albany Crime Analysis Center helped convict a pair of men who committed a drive-by shooting that killed an innocent man in December 2013. The analyst used cell phone records to show the movements of the two men immediately before the killing, thereby disproving their alibi; both men were found guilty in May 2015 and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
- Monroe Crime Analysis Center staff played a key role in resolving the kidnapping of two individuals in 2015. An analyst used social media to identify a suspect in the case. While police questioned the individual, the analyst in real-time investigated leads from the interview and determined the victims had been abducted by members of a local gang. This and other information developed by the analyst allowed investigators to identify where the victims were being held. Police raided the house and freed the victims, both of whom sustained significant injuries at the hand of their captors. Had it not been for this quick action, the case likely would have resulted in a double homicide investigation. The analyst’s work helped police arrest six individuals in connection with the case.
Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour said, "Gathering crime data and proper analysis is the future of law enforcement. Police must know where they have been and where they are going. The Crime Analysis Center will allow law enforcement leaders to have a virtual, immediate response to crime issues, leading to a proactive deployment of valuable resources."
Niagara County District Attorney Michael J. Violante said, "Sifting through the mountain of information we have at our fingertips today is no easy task. The crime analysts working in these centers are trained to notice trends and details that are crucial to effectively investigate and ultimately prosecute cases. Having them at work here, near the international border, will be an invaluable asset to my office and law enforcement throughout western New York."
The Crime Analysis Centers and their analysts have been recognized by international and national organizations for their innovative use of technology and quality of their work, including the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts, the Center for Digital Government and Digital Communities, the International Association of Crime Analysts, and Government Security News.
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training; collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state's DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; funding and oversight of probation and community correction programs; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.
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