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LCSO’s real-time intelligence center helps catch criminals

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office real-time intelligence center (RTIC) is watching to keep the community safe by collecting high-tech information from all over the state, whether it’s to track a major storm’s impact on Southwest Florida or to get criminals off the street.

The intelligence center is a complex network of televisions and surveillance. With one push of a button, Sheriff Carmine Marceno can monitor the entire county, working to solve crimes from the RTIC.

“We had a tip; that tip came in, partial tag; they immediately pulled up the license plate recognition, the LPR,” Marceno said. “You start piecing tags with the LPRs and working possible tags. Those tag numbers build to a suspect.”

That work is done by a team of analysts such as Kortney Calhoun.

“We’re kind of like the detective’s detective,” Calhoun said. “We kind of reach in and get the further information, deeper information that they are looking for and piece it all together in one report and send it off to them.”

It works. In one homicide case, within days they identified a suspect and arrested him. Crimefighters staff the center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

They can see the cameras in every school.

“Six thousand bus stops; 97,000 kids go to school in this county,” Marceno said.

All aircrafts.

“See what airplane is in the air, how high, how fast,” Marceno said.

Every traffic camera and where every deputy is in real-time.

“The ability to press a button and see where our police and sheriff vehicles are,” Marceno said.

And this lets the sheriff “surge resources” or respond in mass, as the department did recently for a call of a missing infant. Analysts quickly pinpointed where the call came from, sent the information to patrol and, “Within an hour to an hour and a half, thank, God, we found that infant; the infant was safe and because of this real-time crime center,” Marceno said.

They can even see video from their drones. But the capabilities of this high-tech tool doesn’t end there. In a crisis, the RTIC serves as an operations center for all of the agencies in Southwest Florida.

“DEA, FBI, ATF, our school district, our fire/EMS,” Marceno said.

They share intelligence with law enforcement throughout the state.

“We have an intel call; it’s a weekly call, and it’s constantly sharing that information with other counties and other police departments in the entire state,” Marceno said.

The RRTIC even keeps tabs on potential social media threats.

“Having the ability to have someone write something on social media, where it flags and it comes to us, and we’re in front of it. We’re proactive,” Marceno said. “Being reactive, we fail.”

Marceno told us that none of these capabilities existed when he got to the sheriff’s office nine years ago, and it’s hard to imagine what will be added in the future. His favorite part of the RTIC is it didn’t cost taxpayers a dime. It’s all funded with forfeiture money.

Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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