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Crime in the crosshairs: Wojtaszek, police chiefs sign joint MOU at Crime Analysis Center

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Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 07:00 pm
As local police chiefs and other senior department leaders look on, Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek announced every police department in the county has signed a memorandum of understanding with her office to mutually share crime data, statistics and information with the Niagara Intelligence and Crime Analysis Center.
As local police chiefs and other senior department leaders look on, Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek announced every police department in the county has signed a memorandum of understanding with her office to mutually share crime data, statistics and information with the Niagara Intelligence and Crime Analysis Center.
Resource now has countywide crimefighting scope
By Public Information Officer Christian W. Peck
Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek and a pantheon of local crime fighters were on-hand Wednesday morning to formalize an agreement to partner their agencies with the county's efforts to identify - and successfully prosecute - criminals.
Flanked by Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour, Niagara Falls Police Superintendent E. Bryan Dalporto and Acting U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy, and a dozen other police chiefs and commanders, Wojtaszek signed memoranda of understanding with each of the county's police departments, ensuring they will share crime data and information with the county's Niagara Intelligence and Crime Analysis Center, a state-of-the art facility that allows prosecutors and police access to a host of information on crime, including camera feeds.
That Crime Analysis Center already has played a significant role in a high-profile case, and Wojtaszek gave a detailed briefing to the press on precisely how the perpetrator of a high-profile sex assault was brought to justice relying on NICAC's resources.
The DA noted the MOU - and the addition of a DA's office staffer at the NICAC - mean the county can step up its efforts to fight crime.
"Our office motto hangs above the front door of the district attorney's office: 'Committed to public safety, fairness and equal justice,'" Wojtaszek said. "Initiatives like this, like hiring a full-time criminal intelligence officer, like partnering with our local police departments, big and small, to share vital data and information - those are the steps we're taking to fulfill that motto, that mission."
Wojtaszek noted the NICAC has already seen successes in the war on crime.
In a post-signing presentation, DA's office staffers explained how assailant Robert MacLeod was apprehended in the sexual assault of a Japanese tourist and was successfully prosecuted by Wojtaszek's office.
"The defendant was brought to justice with evidence generated by cameras, and he was located through intelligence analyzed by the center," Wojtaszek explained. "The result was a case with strong evidence that led to a swift jury verdict and a 22-year jail sentence for the perpetrator. The case sent a strong message to the public that we will not stand for crimes against anyone in our community, or against those tourists that choose to visit our beautiful county."
Wednesday morning's press conference took place at the Niagara Falls Police Department, where the NICAC is sited. A collaborative effort between Wojtaszek's office, local police agencies and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Crime Analysis Center brings a high-level criminal intelligence analyst together with state-of-the-art technology, including a surveillance network of public and private security cameras located throughout the region.
Signing the MOUs with every police department in the county ensures a cross-leveling of information among the crime-fighting agencies, which should lead to more resolved cases and more criminals facing justice.
The center, one of just eight in a statewide network established and supported by the Division of Criminal Justice Services, is staffed by crime analysts, field intelligence officers, drug intelligence officers, and a range of other specialists focused on crunching data, isolating trends, identifying crime hotspots, developing leads in cases, and assisting police and prosecutors.
Wojtaszek also formally invited local businesses and residents to join an effort dubbed "Operation Safe Cam," registering their security cameras with her office.
"Our police will know where the cameras are and can access footage quickly and solve crimes faster ... by empowering the public to help us in fighting crime in our community," she told an audience made up of police and prosecutors.
Michael C. Green, DCJS executive deputy commissioner, praised today's actions.
"The work done by staff assigned to the eight crime analysis centers in the state's network plays a key role in keeping New Yorkers safe," he said. "They provide data and intelligence - often in real-time - that allow investigators and officers to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. The expansion of the center further strengthens the network and I thank District Attorney Wojtaszek, Sheriff Voutour, Chief Dalporto and their law enforcement colleagues through Niagara County for their continued partnership.
"Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, New York state remains committed to providing local law enforcement agencies with resources, support and technology that will help ensure a safer New York for all its residents."
In addition to Niagara Falls, crime analysis centers are located in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Malone, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica. They primarily serve law enforcement in 16 counties: Albany, Broome, Clinton, Essex, Erie, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Saratoga and Schenectady, but will assist other agencies throughout their regions upon request.
The Centers in Albany, Malone, Niagara Falls, Rochester and Utica, Erie and Onondaga offer assistance in real-time.
New York state annually invests about $6 million in the network, which also connects to locally supported centers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. The New York State Police, state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Department of Motor Vehicles, and federal Probation Department also share data with the centers.
The crime analysis centers and staffers have been recognized by international and national organizations for their innovative use of technology and quality of their work, including the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts, the Center for Digital Government and Digital Communities, Government Security News, and the International Association of Crime Analysts.

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