As Saginaw shootings escalate, high-tech traffic cameras will identify vehicles suspected of being linked to violent crimes

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SAGINAW, MI – High-definition traffic cameras will soon add additional eyes to the streets for law enforcement investigating violent crime in the city, Saginaw Police Chief Robert Ruth said.

With a grant of $ 273,144 from the United States Department of Justice, Saginaw Police plan to purchase the surveillance system from Vancouver-based Avigilon, which will supply several cameras that officials plan to install. by January 2022.

The purchase follows a severe summer which now flows into the fall season in Saginaw.

“Most big cities already have this technology,” said Ruth. “We are proactively doing everything we can to help reduce crime here. We don’t just sit on our hands and wait for things to stop. “

The camera system works like this, he said: Traffic-oriented cameras capture high-definition images, including vehicle license plate numbers. After violent crimes where witnesses provide descriptions of vehicles driven by suspects, investigators can access downloads from the surveillance system, matching the resulting images to suspicious vehicles spotted in those neighborhoods at the time of the crimes.

“It’s a very sophisticated tool that can grow with us,” said Ruth.

With further upgrades to the system, police could one day use the cameras to capture images of license plate numbers attached to vehicles spotted breaking speed limits and running red lights at intersections.

For now, however, the surveillance system will focus on investigating violent crime, including shootings and armed robberies, the police chief said.

Ruth said the surveillance system is mobile and will be installed at strategic locations. To avoid warning potential criminals, Ruth said he did not intend to publicly reveal how many cameras have been purchased or where the technology will be installed.

Saginaw Police have a habit of using neighborhood watch cameras for investigations, although this was the first technology to focus exclusively on vehicle identification.

“This is a caveat on top of what we already have,” said Ruth. “It gives us that extra layer of technology that could help us investigate further.”

Saginaw police this month began investigating the town’s 15th homicide of the year, all but one of which was caused by gunfire. This violence included an upsurge in shootings that resulted in nine bullets, including two fatally, in the space of five days in early August.

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