Police Real-Time Crime Centers: Challenges in Sharing the Collected Information

Real-Time Crime Centers are “the shiny new thing” in policing.

RTCCs are hubs of time-sensitive information. They receive data & alerts from all sorts of sources — license plate readers, surveillance cameras, proximity alarms, gunfire detection systems…

Imagine a 911 call going to a dispatcher who then broadcasts an emergency on the police radio. While cops are responding via squad cars, analysts or cops in RTCCs may be checking area traffic or surveillance cameras to better inform those in the field of what’s happened or is happening. In real time.

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?? Like an image of a shooter’s clothes. Or a drivers license photo of a missing elderly person? Or a screenshot of a fleeing offender’s car? Or an overhead map?

A challenge is in how to securely convey this information to first responders.

Do your Computer Aided Dispatch Systems (CADS) or squad car computers allow for sending & receiving photos? What about if you assign out mobile photos or tablets — do they allow it?

What about sharing with the cops on foot? Or on bicycle? Or in a helicopter?

What about when the cop in the field wants to share a photo with other responders or the RTCC? (Please don’t tell me “by email”….)

All of these challenges are compounded with multi-agency incidents — when first responders are on incompatible radio channels & different CADS. Any communication system that’s held up as a solution *must* account for interoperability!

If you think this is the time where I offer some easy fix, you’ll be waiting... We are struggling with this exact issue.

The product that can bridge this gap will likely be the next tech breakthrough in policing.


Post photo is a rare capture of the author in uniform (“white shirt”), May 2022, in a multi-agency response to real-time GPS info being broadcast to ground & air units, across dozens of municipalities.


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a detective supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. He's focused on multi-jurisdictional crime patterns & intelligence, through organic working groups compromised of investigators & analysts from a variety of agencies. With a passion for training, he studies human performance, decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, & adaptability. In 2021, he went back to college (remotely!), in hopes to finally finish his undergrad degree from the University of Illinois - Gies College of Business. Follow Lou on LinkedIn, & also the LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model


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