New Pflugerville police initiatives utilize technology to foster crime awareness and prevention among residents

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The Pflugerville Police Department in February rolled out two new technology-driven initiatives to drum up crime prevention and public awareness.

Chief Jessica Robledo contends that the two innovative programs—a real-time digital crime map and a home security camera registration system—are extensions of her department’s emphasis on community engagement in its fight against crime.

“People jump at the opportunity to help us,” Robledo said. “They just don’t see the uniform; they see [the programs] as an outreach and as extensions that they can be part of something to solve crime.”

On Feb. 15 the PPD announced it is partnering with Pflugerville residents who have home surveillance systems installed on their houses.

The Digital Neighborhood Watch program asks residents to voluntarily notify police if they own exterior-facing surveillance cameras. Once the surveillance system is registered, residents will only be contacted by police when there is a crime in the vicinity of the household. Participation in the program does not grant the police department remote access to the equipment.

Terri Toledo, public information officer for Pflugerville, said that 185 households have registered their equipment with the city as of March 16.

The PPD then unveiled its online digital crime map, a real-time, interactive database for tracking crime in Pflugerville, on Feb. 23. The data available on the site is from 2018 moving forward.

“We made a significant investment with the system that includes crime map, includes online reporting and includes crime analysis,” Robledo said.

The online crime map is part of a larger $2.8 million investment, from the city’s general fund, in the police department’s dispatch and record-management system. According to Robledo, the department has been vetting and testing its new computer-aided dispatch and record-management system, developed by Spillman Technologies, since 2016. The entire system, including the crime map, went live in January.

Robledo has been Pflugerville’s chief of police for a little over a year, and said she is looking to implement proactive initiatives that include community input and communication. Violent crime—including homicide, rape, robbery, assault, vehicular theft and burglary—has dropped more than 7 percent overall in the past year, according to statistics from the city of Pflugerville.

Per Robledo, initiatives like the Digital Neighborhood Watch program turn the community into a valuable resource in crime prevention.

“I noticed when I first got here the property crime was spiking, particularly vehicle break-ins. Our investigators used to have to walk the area. That takes a lot of man hours,” Robledo said.

Now, if a crime occurs in a particular area, the PPD can turn to residents who have registered their cameras in an area to see if the footage has captured any criminal activity.

View the Crime Map here
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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