The city's center, called "The Walk," is an open-air shopping and entertainment center, featuring over 50 municipal parks. Coral Springs has won accolades for its overall livability, low crime rate and family-friendly environment.
The Challenge - The Coral Springs Police Department's Future Vision is to strategically identify and respond to critical opportunities and challenges to enhance neighborhood vitality and quality of life. The department has a diverse workforce of over 200 police officers and about 100 civilian members, and incorporates several problem-solving initiatives including local substations. This level of service has allowed Coral Springs to enjoy one of the lowest crime rates in Florida for a city of its size.
Carol Fortier is a Crime Lab Technician with the department's Crime Scene Investigations Unit, and is responsible for processing crime scene video during the day shift. She and her night shift counterpart, Crime Scene Technician Joan Menke, found the existing video processing system hard to use and inconvenient, and wanted to be able to process video immediately.
"In doing research, VideoFOCUS Pro from Salient Stills became a clear front-runner," said Fortier. "It was very easy to use and not watered-down like the other systems. All the features and functions we find important were there, and everyone could use it."
In January 2010, the department adopted VideoFOCUS Pro, a powerful video forensics and image enhancement system which uses innovative processing algorithms to import or screen capture analog and digital video. Clearer stills and videos generated through VideoFOCUS Pro provide quick leads and evidence to investigators.
The Results - Like most cities, Coral Springs has an abundance of surveillance and security cameras, and crimes are often caught on videotape, closed circuit TV systems, digital video cameras and even cell phones. These unprocessed videos can be of poor quality, making it difficult to identify suspects or view clear details of the crime scene. Further complicating the use of video is that many systems store video in proprietary formats, making it difficult to easily capture specific sequences for analysis and viewing.
"We try to get images of suspects released immediately to the police and media," said Fortier. "We use the feature that breaks down the video into individual frames the most. We can then scan for faces, vehicles or other important details, and get it out quickly."
Coral Springs uses VideoFOCUS Pro to analyze everything from robberies and kidnappings, to bad checks and shootings. However, the biggest areas for using video evidence are credit card fraud, pharmacy investigations and suspicious gift card purchases. The majority of video reviewed by the Coral Springs PD is digital, with a fair amount of that in proprietary formats.
VideoFOCUS Pro loads video onto a departmental PC, and, in a one click function, Fortier and Joan can swiftly and efficiently view every frame, from what can be thousands of frames in a single video.
"What used to take two to three hours, now takes about 20 minutes to review," said Fortier. "This is a significant reduction in time, and works equally well for analog and digital video. Locating an image is quick, and blew our last system out of the water."
Fortier also likes VideoFOCUS Pro's blur option, which she uses to blur everyone except the suspect. For a recent armed robbery, she used this feature to publicly release a clear video of the suspects, while victims were unidentifiable. "We had a bit of footage so it took about an hour to do, but it's a great feature and easy to use," she said.
The Solution - In addition to getting stills and videos out to other officers and the community to identify suspects, Coral Springs PD also sometimes shares images and videos with witnesses. "These can help victims and witnesses recall additional details and better connect the pieces," said Fortier. "As they watch it happen, victims can usually make better sense of the timeline of events."
Coral Springs PD estimates it has used VideoFOCUS Pro to analyze 120 videos over the past year. "With VideoFOCUS Pro, we can put video in terms other people can use, and it's easy to explain," said Fortier. "For attorneys and suspects, using video and stills, we can walk them through every frame."