CHICOPEE – The city’s police department will buy software that can put more information, including video, in the hands of officers and quick responses.
The software is called Fusus, short for “Fusus Real-Time Crime Center in the Cloud.” It extracts and merges live video, data and other feeds and sends them to an emergency operations center.
The software is said to give officers expanded sources of information to help solve crimes, including surveillance videos, license plate recognition cameras, floor plans and live drone feeds, among others. The material is fed into a map-based application.
The department plans to use it to monitor and respond to criminal activity, traffic incidents and threats to public safety, Deputy Chief Eric Watson told council members Thursday.
Mayor John Vieau said the software will allow officers to work more efficiently and effectively.
The council approved moving $150,000 from the city’s stabilization account to the police department’s computer software account to purchase a one-year subscription.
The software must function as a framework for the city’s neighborhood watch program. The system will allow residents and business owners to voluntarily register their surveillance cameras and have the ability to share their footage in real time with the police department.
This will allow investigators to identify cameras near where a crime occurred so they can contact the camera’s owner and request video footage.
“The registration of the cameras will save valuable time during an investigation,” Watson said during his council presentation. “Countless hours are spent by investigators searching areas, looking for cameras, trying to contact their owners and then trying to get video from them.”
He added, “With staff shortages, Fusus will be an effective force multiplier for the police department.”
Included in the software package is FususTIPS, which allows residents and business owners to anonymously submit tips to the police department, and FususNOTIFY, which police can use to keep Chicopee updated with relevant information through other forms of communication, such as text. alarms.
The annual fee for the software will be included in the department’s future budget requests, which fall around $15 million.
Ward 3 City Councilwoman Delmarina Lopez and resident Katherine Pires expressed concerns about the software before the 10-1 vote to approve funding.
Pires, who works as a software analyst, said Fusus seems promising but is concerned about the idea of the police department having access to residents’ personal cameras.
She called for transparency between the police department and residents at the meeting.
Police Chief Patrick Major said in response to Pires’ question that residents and business owners will decide for themselves whether to sign up for the program. He said if there was a video they needed they would send an email out.
Lopez, who voted against the software agenda item, said there have been privacy and civil rights concerns in other communities. She said the public should have time to get input on it.
“This is something that could infringe on people’s rights,” she said.
In defense of the software, Vice Chairman Robert Zygarowski said he trusts the research Major and Watson did on the project and believes people’s privacy was taken into account.
“There are certain things that go on in a police department that the public will just never understand,” he said. He said the software will provide the department with an efficient new tool.
The department will begin implementing the software into its practice and train officers and staff in its use, Major said after the meeting.
Watson said the department will begin reaching out to residents to see who would like to have their video camera registered.
Major said there may be public meetings for residents who want information about the program.