10,000 surveillance cameras anchor sheriff’s enhanced ‘Real Time Crime Center’ for school, community safety

The Broward Sheriff’s Office is promoting an added layer of security as the new school year begins.

Sheriff Gregory Tony has unveiled the Real Time Crime Center, designed to anticipate and/or react to threats by monitoring 10,000 cameras in more than 260 public school and administrative buildings.

Broward School District Superintendent Robert Runcie said he plans to add another 2,500 cameras in schools and invest $53 million on added security personnel.

The Real Time Crime Center can also monitor cameras at Broward Sheriff’s headquarters, several substations, jails, helicopters, license plate readers, GPS electronic monitors and the SaferWatch app.

The goal of the expanded Threat Management Division is to deter, detect, and relentlessly investigate persons and/or groups who desire to wound or kill masses of people at schools, places of worship, places of business and large scale public events, officials said.

“We have improved the way we gather intelligence and respond to potential threats,” Tony said, in a statement. “We now have cutting-edge technology to identify and investigate potentially dangerous threats to our community.”

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony speaks during a press conference inside BSO's Real Time Crime Center, which allows for real-time monitoring and analysis during a critical incident in Fort Lauderdale, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. The RTCC will monitor over 260 public school buildings and provide BSO direct access to video surveillance systems. (John McCall / South Florida Sun Sentinel/South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The new Real Time Crime Center has a 40-foot main video wall, a 16-foot side-video wall, 20 workstations for personnel, cubicles for Threat Management Unit personnel and a conference room. The estimated total cost is $2 million which is being paid for by re-appropriated funds and through acquiring grants, officials said.

Since January, the Unit has run 140 drills within Broward’s schools to test the camera system. Personnel have monitored and given tactical guidance to officers at the scene of 142 real-life incidents within the schools, including lockdowns for crimes happening on and off school property.

During that time, according to the sheriff’s office, the Unit has investigated 175 cases, resulting in 41 arrests, including 29 adults and 12 juveniles. Arrest warrants were also issued for five out-of-state cases from California, Colorado, Georgia, Ohio and Virginia for felonies that included attempted murder, aggravated stalking, and written death threats.

Those suspects have been sent to, or are awaiting, extradition to Broward County to face charges.