Police plan to work with private security guards

The Dayton Police Department is recruiting the help of private security guards and relying on high-tech cameras to deter and solve crimes downtown, utilizing public-safety strategies that have reduced crime in other urban areas.

The city has installed four police surveillance cameras in Dayton’s Central Business District and plans to install another 23 .

Cameras can identify criminal suspects, capture crimes on video and discourage criminal activities, since people realize they are under observation, police officials said.

The police department also has started meeting with private security guards who work downtown to provide them with training and request their assistance in crime-fighting efforts.

The goal is “to get everyone on the same page,” said Maj. David Wolford, division commander of the Central Patrol Operations Division.

Private security guards often far outnumber police officers who patrol the central business districts of urban areas. Many office buildings in downtown Dayton employ private security firms.

Security guards in downtown can supplement police patrols, providing officers with crucial information about suspects and they can report emergencies and problem activities, Wolford said.

The police department this month provided active-shooter training to a few dozen security guards who work downtown. Officials say they plan to host another training session that will focus on how to handle situations involving mentally ill individuals.

Police support creating a webpage where downtown security guards can communicate and share information about public safety concerns, Wolford said.

The website would be modeled after a website used by security personnel in downtown Minneapolis, Minn. Wolford visited Minnesota’s largest city to learn more about its partnership between police and security professionals.

The police department also in the long-term is interested in security guards possibly using the same radios to improve communications between each other, as well as with law enforcement. City commissioners encouraged staff to research and pursue grant funding that could pay for the shared radio system.

Security guards provide a visible, public-safety presence downtown that makes people who visit, live and work downtown feel safer, and that visibility deters law-breaking, Wolford said.

The city’s security camera system downtown also promotes crime prevention, because people who are being watched and recorded are less likely to engage in illegal activities, said Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl.

The cameras are located at Third and Main streets, Second and Ludlow streets, Second and St. Clair streets and Monument Avenue and Patterson Boulevard.

The high-tech camera system allows police to condense many hours of video into a short video snippet, meaning officers need not waste time viewing lots of irrelevant footage.

In a demonstration Wednesday, police showed how hours of surveillance footage can be compressed and filtered, in this case showing only blue cars and passers-by wearing blue clothing.

The footage can be filtered to show only cars and people traveling in a particular direction.

“It’s hours of video compressed into a very short period of time,” Biehl said.

Officials said police often did not have time to review hours of video footage to try to find evidence regarding very minor crimes. But the new technology has made reviewing potential video evidence easy.

Biehl said police also want to connect its security camera network with the security cameras owned and operated by the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority.