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City of Tulsa set to build 'real-time information center' despite some pushback

Posted at 10:13 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 11:30:27-04

TULSA, Okla. — Local law enforcement says a new network of cameras will help keep Tulsans safer. It’s called a “Crime Information Center” — a headquarters for cameras trained on areas around the city.

The Tulsa City Council voted to approve the new system despite pushback from dozens of Tulsans against the new cameras. The Tulsa Police Department told 2 News Oklahoma that Crime Information Centers are a growing trend among police departments across the country. The centers are headquarters for cameras stationed throughout the city.

Police say it’s going to keep people safer and allow officers to respond more efficiently. However, some believe, that without proper oversight, it could be a tool for abuse.

Tulsa Police Cpt. Jacob Johnston says they’ll aid in investigations through its robust database.

“That means there’s not just a reduction of crime but a reduction of the number of people being victimized,” Johnston says.

The center will operate similarly to a 911 dispatch center. There will be someone communicating with an officer and an analyst looking up license plates, history of crime in the areas and identifying suspects.

Johnston says the network will be connected to existing traffic cameras, flock cameras, TPD mobile trailers and about 12 new cameras. The locations of the new cameras have not yet been identified.

“We’re also going to be developing policies and internal procedures to ensure that we’re not using this in a way that is unethical.”

Meanwhile, dozens of Tulsans voiced their concerns at Wednesday’s budget meeting, along with City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper.

“There are other ways in which we can address social ills that we face in this community that would do far better than what a real-time information center,” Hall-Harper said.

The budget passed Wednesday night 7-1-1. Hall-Harper was the only one to vote against the budget proposal. She told the council the $2.5 million crime information center is the reason why she voted no.

“I’m against a crime center that is just going to continue to lead in arrests that are already marginalized,” a resident for District 9 said.

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