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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD)
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) provides public safety services for the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina.
The department was formed in 1993 by merging the Charlotte City Police Department with the Mecklenburg County Rural Police Department, and the 1,849 sworn officers now patrol the entire 438 square miles of Mecklenburg County, protecting more than 800,000 residents.
The size of both the CMPD and the geographic area the department serves creates logistic and operational challenges in coordinating divisions, districts, and personnel. To streamline operations, the CMPD’s command staff has established a unique infrastructure to help field officers by anticipating problems and providing real-time intelligence, allowing them to respond more quickly to criminal activity.
For years, the CMPD has utilized public safety technology. Automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) technology was first introduced by the department in 2006 with the installation of LPR cameras on four marked police vehicles. As the host city for the 2012 Democratic National Convention (DNC), Charlotte enhanced their technology infrastructure to ensure public safety during the convention. Since the DNC, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has dedicated this technology to assist with law enforcement and resolving criminal investigations and has expanded its network to include both fixed and mobile systems that rely on always-on cellular communications for real-time intelligence data transfer.
The AirLink gateway is one of those mission-critical cogs in the wheel that we never have to worry about because it always works as intended. It’s really nice to have that kind of confidence in a partner.
Director of Sales, NDI Recognition Systems
With funding from the DNC federal security grant and an Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant, the CMPD was able to enhance their investment in automatic license plate recognition cameras and software from Sierra Wireless Solution Partner, NDI Recognition Systems (NDI-RS).
In total, the department increased their LPR technology to 89 fixed LPR cameras, four mobile systems, two portable Rapid Deployment System (RDS) units, and thirteen Road Warrior LPR trailers featuring the Sierra Wireless AirLink gateways for high performance, mission-critical cellular communication and GPS capabilities.
“We evaluated a number of devices from other vendors before selecting the AirLink gateway,” explained Chris McKissick, NDI-RS’ director of sales for the US public safety market. “We’ve always has a strong relationship with Sierra Wireless, and the gateway was the most user-friendly device that we trialed. It best fit the requirements to fulfill the mission of our customers.”
The AirLink gateway’s rugged military spec design and water resistant aluminum casing enables it to withstand the extreme temperature changes, humidity, shock, and vibration found in mobile applications. Supporting the newest cellular networks, the gateway is ideal for portable field deployments and offers the option to add Wi-Fi, more I/O, or Ethernet ports if required. AirLink mobile gateways also support Sierra Wireless’ device management cloud application, AirLink® Management Service, which remotely configures, deploys, and monitors the gateways over-the-air.
The NDI-RS Road Warrior system provides portability coupled with covert ALPR functionality. Looking and functioning as a speed or variable messaging system (VMS) trailer, the Road Warrior houses a complete ALPR system and connects seamlessly to NDI-RS’s back office platform via persistent, reliable communications provided by the on-board AirLink gateway. The Road Warrior can monitor hotlists, collect intelligence for later investigations, and trigger alerts to patrol vehicles, dispatch centers, or officer emails. In addition, the GPS capabilities provided by the AirLink gateway makes it easy to keep track of Road Warrior deployment locations.
“As a member of the Sierra Wireless Solution Partner Program, when we need support we have an entire team at our disposal – from engineers to sales,” said McKissick. “We can communicate across teams to share what’s going on and work in concert to quickly get issues resolved or new devices up and running in our systems.”
The NDI-RS solutions are monitored by trained patrol officers and supervisors in the field and overseen from the CMPD’s Real Time Crime Center (RTCC), a 24-hour command center staffed by trained detectives who support the CMPD’s field officers. The RTCC also monitors more than 800 video cameras throughout the metropolitan area. Under specific policy and guidelines, the CMPD protects the privacy of citizens by restricting the use of their technology to law enforcement purposes and enforces retention periods for all camera and LPR footage.
The RTCC primarily focuses on crimes in progress and priority alerts. LPR cameras alert the RTCC to suspect or wanted vehicles, and the RTCC officers can use the video camera system to view activity. All the video cameras have “pan/tilt/zoom” (PTZ) capability, so RTCC officers can follow incidents and relay information and intelligence to officers in the field. A dedicated workstation provides access to the NDI-RS back office system, but every workstation in the RTCC, as well as selected trained patrol officers in the field, can access the LPR systems.
Through the combination of advanced ALPR technology from NDI-RS and unfailing communications from Sierra Wireless, the RTCC is able to support the officers in the field with real-time crime analysis and visual reconnaissance. The center offers both a real-time awareness of conditions in the field, coupled with a wide-ranging surveillance capability. RTCC officers can provide field officers with alerts and background information on suspect vehicles based on license plate information drawn from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and state and local databases. In addition, they can monitor situations using video cameras, document criminal activity, track suspects on the move, and provide information to assist in pursuits.
“The AirLink gateway is one of those mission-critical cogs in the wheel that we never have to worry about because it always works as intended,” concluded McKissick. “It’s really nice to have that kind of confidence in a partner.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD)
AirLink Mobility Manager (AMM)
AirLink Connection Manager (ACM)