Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced the launch of two new technology centers to help the department to solve crimes more effectively and to improve their clearance rate.
The announcement comes on the heels of a recent study that found Chicago is the 13th-most surveilled city in the world, and second only to Atlanta in the United States.
With all those cameras, Chicago police are hoping that the new technology centers will help them to make the most of the tsunami of data.
“When crimes aren’t solved, the relationship between officers and the community frays, collaboration weakens, and trust wanes,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a statement. “Investing in our detectives is more than just about better protecting evidence, expediting investigations and increasing clearance rates, it’s about providing families who have lost a loved one to the scourge of gun violence with the answers they deserve.”
The new centers, which will open in Area North and Area Central, will employ specially-trained officers, who will look at raw data and surveillance video, as well as bodycam footage from the field in an effort to use the information to solve more crimes quickly.
A pilot program in Area South has processed over 700 case requests since February, and several suspects in homicide cases have been charged as a result of the program.
"The investments in our detective bureau will enhance our crimefighting capabilities, and continue improving the clearance rate throughout Chicago," Johnson said in a statement. "The ATCs will not only have a positive impact on the Department's ability to keep our neighborhoods safe but will also help strengthen our relationships with the communities we serve and bolster the judicial process when prosecuting crimes with the support of strong video evidence."
In addition to police officers, the technology centers will also be staffed with specialists from the University of Chicago’s crime lab. The centers are being funded through a grant from hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin.
Lightfoot hopes that the new centers will help improve the city’s success rate in solving and prosecuting crimes, something she spoke of often in her campaign for mayor.
“Chicago’s clearance rate is an issue I discussed throughout my campaign because I heard from people in communities about it over and over again,” she said.