A New York state Division of Criminal Justice Services official was in Orange County Wednesday to announce the formal opening of the state’s ninth Crime Analysis Center. The center serves Orange, Dutchess and Ulster Counties. Area police chiefs and officials from district attorney offices were on hand to talk about how the center has already helped them.
DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael Green says the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center in the Orange County Emergency Services Center in Goshen is the ninth intelligence and data-sharing center in a state supported network.
“They’ve been operating about three months now,” Green says. “And we actually had a board meeting right before this, and one of the things the director was reviewing with us the workload that’s actually been just about doubling every month.”
New York invested some $410,000 to renovate a 2,300-square foot space in the Goshen building. Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler says he had been vocal about siting the center in his county.
“I wanted it in Orange County for really two reasons,” says Hoovler. “One, we’re the largest geographic people-wise between New York City and Syracuse and, case-wise, we have the largest volume of cases in the Hudson Valley.”
Hoovler says the ability in the center to social media data mine and employ facial recognition software are a great help.
“Over here, a case involving animal cruelty the prosecutor used this to pull up social media posts of the defendant in that case that he never would have been able to find if he had to do it himself or if he had an investigator look for it. But this facility was able to find it,” Hoovler says. “Those photographs and pictures were used in the cross examination of the defendant to discredit that person’s testimony.”
The center features a video wall that displays all sorts of information, including feeds from surveillance cameras in the cities of Middletown and Newburgh. Doug Solomon is City of Newburgh police chief.
“Well we’re sure the operation of this center is going to bring this region up to the cutting edge in law enforcement,” Solomon says. “Back a couple of months ago, in its infancy, we were already able to solve a bank robbery with the assistance of the center in a very expeditious manner. So it’s already proven itself to be effective.”
City of Poughkeepsie Police Chief Thomas Pape says the center affords police access to information and resources they do not have at headquarters.
“So being a part of this center gives us those resources to glean that information that you couldn’t normally get without someone who’s very good on a computer, with social media etcetera, etcetera,” says Pape.
He, too, says the center already has been helpful.
“The ability to look at police reports, cameras, social media and all this information within minutes for our investigators has reshaped how we do an investigation,” Pape says. “Just this week, this center was responsible for generating information to my investigators on a homicide that we were not privy to with vehicles and addresses. So it gave us a leg up on this case.”
Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti says his city has already benefitted with obtaining information to help with its intimate partner violence intervention program announced in the spring. More generally:
“Anytime we have a crime, we check to see if that individual, the suspect, may have committed something in another jurisdiction. And it doesn’t just have to be in the local Town of Ulster or Saugerties or, now it’s regional, and, since this center’s tied into the other eight, we’re talking statewide," Tinti says. "So it is a huge advantage for Kingston and any agency to able to use the information collectively at the center.”
Meantime, Green says the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center could expand down the road.
“Albany started as a one-county center, It’s now a four-county center,” says Green. “So the fact that this starts as a three-county center, 10 years from now, it might still be a three-county center. In 10 years from now, it might be a six-county center.”
An 11-member board of directors oversees the center.