New Volusia County crime center uses cameras for real-time info

By Saul Saenz, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, January 12, 2017, 8:41 AM EST

A newly-established, real-time crime center in Volusia County is helping deputies return safely to their families after responding to a crime.

  • Crime center started by Sheriff Mike Chitwood
  • Analysts can quickly get information to responding officers
  • Center assisting in search for Markeith Loyd

The center has been up and running for only six months and was established by Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who started the program at the Daytona Beach police department when he was police chief there.

"It saves lives (and) is what we're looking to do," Chitwood said.

Volusia County is one of only a few Florida counties with similar centers.

Here is how it works: When a crime is reported and is unfolding, analysts have access to cameras all over the county. Some cameras read tags on cars, and others use face recognition technology.

When units are responding, an analyst's job is to pump information to the officer or deputy responding to the call, letting them know if there is a potential threat.

"That information can help save an officer's life, and it can help them when they have to make a decision," Chitwood said. "They are making an informed decision, as opposed to (having) limited information."

Given all the resources the center provides officers to keep them safe, News 13 asked Sheriff Chitwood if information provided in the county's crime center would have helped Master Sgt. Debra Clayton.

"That information can help save an officer's life, and it can help them when they have to make a decision." - Sheriff Mike Chitwood

"I don't think so," he said. "That guy was gonna kill a cop. He was not gonna go back to jail."

Clayton was shot and killed Monday after trying to question a murder suspect.

The center is helping track down Markeith Loyd, the man Clayton tried questioning and now a key suspect in her murder.

"They're supporting first hand our detectives out in the field there," said Investigative Services Capt. Paul Cameron.

Chitwood said: "On the other 99 percent of the time we do it, that information is invaluable as the officers are going to the scene. It's nice to know that you're going to a domestic disturbance and the person there had been arrested before for using a knife or a firearm on an officer."

Now Volusia County investigators want to use the real-time crime center resources county wide, helping other cities keep their officers safe.