The Hartford Police Department is never short on data, thanks to an innovative, state-of-the-art crime center.

HPD2 (1 of 1)COMPASS recently had the opportunity to visit the crime center, launched just last year as a central hub of information. The facility monitors a stream of footage from across the city and sorts the images by category. Shot Spotter, an audio technology that can detect shots fired, gives a real-time (and life-saving) first report. Culling through all of this information is a team of analysists and officers under HPD’s Special Operations Group. Their intel can make all the difference in solving crimes and averting potential acts of violence.

“This data definitely allows us to be more strategic,” says Hartford Police Sergeant John Michael O’Hare, one of the key figures in bringing the center to fruition. “But when we talk about fighting crime, we can’t simply arrest our way out of the problem. Here in Hartford, and particularly for our youthful offenders, we have to address crime by also considering the profound effects of poverty.”

To that end, the police often rely on community-based agencies to fill in the gaps. The COMPASS Peacebuilders are uniquely positioned to reach and mentor the city’s most disconnected youth. They work in tandem with police to respond to crises and mitigate retaliations. Once referred, these youth can segway into COMPASS’ three-year program, which provides case management, life skill classes, and mentorship. In total, these strategies are designed to interrupt youth violence in the short term, while reconnecting youth to positive supports over the long term.

The crime center, with its inexhaustible capacity for data collection, provides a clearer picture of which youth are in crisis – and that can be a game changer.

“When we started COMPASS, we did so in partnership with law enforcement,” notes COMPASS chief Bob Pawloski, who came away from the tour deeply impressed. “I am so hopeful that this technology, coupled with our history of collaborative programming, can lead to a model for saving young lives.”

To learn more about the HPD Crime Center, check out the Hartford Courant’s coverage here.