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California Funds New Policing Technology to Combat Crime Uptick 

California Funds New Policing Technology to Combat Crime Uptick 

A law enforcement officer monitors surveillance equipment in Irvine, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

John Fredricks
John Fredricks

11/22/2023

Updated: 11/22/2023

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IRVINE, Calif.—The City of Irvine on Nov. 21 was awarded $2 million by state officials for the development of a Real Time Crime Center that features data analysis and high-definition surveillance equipment to help police officers combat crime surges in retail and automotive theft.
“These funds represent the state’s continued commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to give them the resources they need to fight crime in the 21st century,” California State Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine) told members of the media outside Irvine City Hall. “I was so thankful we were able to find some funding in the budget to be able to fund this new Real Time Crime Center alongside my colleagues which will put modern tools in the hands of our Irvine Police Department.”
The funding comes after California officials in September awarded $39 million, according to Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), to law enforcement agencies throughout Orange County to combat organized retail crime, which have been on the rise over the last year.
According to Irvine Police Department officials, the center will be run by a staff of crime analysts who will access past and current data trends of suspects, along with vehicle descriptions and time patterns obtained by surveillance procedures.
The information obtained by the center will then be relayed to patrol officers giving them up-to-date data needed to enforce crimes throughout the city, according to Irvine Police Chief Michael Kent.
“It’s unfortunate but over the course of the last few years that the state of California has certainly seen an uptick in criminal activity [and] the city of Irvine has certainly not been exempt of some of these criminal trends,” Mr. Kent said. “There is no question that establishing the [center] is a significant milestone for our department and our ongoing efforts to enhance public safety through direct information in real time.”
California politicians on both sides of the aisle have acknowledged California’s crime increase over the past several years, which include a surge in “smash-and-grab” coordinated robberies at well-known shopping centers including Fashion Island in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza.
In presenting the check to the City of Irvine, Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris shared the need to take back shopping centers from organized retail criminals plaguing the Southland.
“I don’t think I have to tell anyone here today that retail theft is completely out of control,” she said. “It’s time to stop these criminal gangs from destroying our community’s sense of safety and security, and that’s really what these grants are about.”
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, presents a check for $2 million to the city of Irvine to establish a Real Time Crime Center in Irvine, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, presents a check for $2 million to the city of Irvine to establish a Real Time Crime Center in Irvine, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The crime center will also give police officers an enhanced ability to track down organized retail crime rings, and prosecute those who are targeting retailers and customers, according to Ms. Norris.
Inside City Hall, Irvine Police Department officers and city officials monitored several screens that featured traffic camera feeds from various parts of the city of 309,000 residents.
Once screen showed pedestrians walking toward the Irvine Spectrum shopping center, Irvine’s busiest retail hub.
“This is just an example of what’s ahead for our upcoming Real Time Crime Center,” one officer told The Epoch Times while looking at multiple angles of the live video footage. “We would like to get the RTCC up and running as soon as possible, of course.”
Officers estimated the new crime center would be in operation “well-within the year.”
Along with retail theft, both violent and property crimes in 2022 increased over 6 percent throughout California, according to the state’s Attorney General’s office.
Despite these statistics, Irvine remains one of the nation’s safest cities, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“I’m so pleased that we’re here today taking an important step towards establishing a Real Time Crime Center right here in Irvine,” Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan said. “This investment will allow [crime] analysts to best serve public safety.”
A check for $2 million is presented to the city of Irvine to establish a Real Time Crime Center in Irvine, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A check for $2 million is presented to the city of Irvine to establish a Real Time Crime Center in Irvine, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

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John Fredricks is a California-based journalist for The Epoch Times. His reportage and photojournalism features have been published in a variety of award-winning publications around the world.

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