Myrtle Beach police using new technology to help catch criminals

Myrtle Beach police using new technology to help catch criminals

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A portion of the city of Myrtle Beach's public safety budget is going toward new technology that police officers are using daily to fight crime.

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall told city council on Tuesday the police department is able to solve cases using some of the latest crime fighting technology.

For example, after a shooting on Jan. 31 on Oak Forest Lane, a witness told officers a white car was involved. They were then able to use a sequence of 30 camera shots from the city's nearly 800 surveillance cameras to track that vehicle to Little River Road.

According to Gall, multiple arrests were made in the case, which involved a drug deal. He said the surveillance equipment played a vital role.

"Two years ago, we would have had nothing," Gall said. "Absolutely nothing."

The city's license plate readers, installed in 2016, also help police make arrests. They read eight million tags within six months last year, according to Gall. More than 19,000 had been previously been entered into the system, which allowed law enforcement to apprehend additional suspects and even recover missing persons or property, the chief said.

Recently, a federal grant funded the installation of Howler sirens on police cars. The device helps those on the road who are distracted or hard of hearing.

"It actually rumbles a little bit, so they can actually feel it as the emergency vehicle is approaching," Gall said.

Other technology available to officers is a portable ID technology system that helps with identification.

"We can take your finger, put it on there, it will automatically read your fingerprint, send it through the system and tell us if you've already been fingerprinted and if your name is in there," Gall said. "We've used it multiple times. We use it almost on a weekly basis to identify people who refuse to identify themselves while they're under arrest."

If people provide false information once they're at the jail, there is a machine for that too. It also matches up fingerprints with those in the system.

"In 2016, we've had 100 incidents where we've caught people giving us false information while they're being booked in," Gall said.

Investigators are also able to run fingerprints from crime scenes through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System and use facial recognition technology through the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division to get additional information for cases.

Next month, the police department will launch the Hyper-Reach Mass Notification System. It will notify people of an emergency with different kinds of notifications, such as voice or text messages, based on location. People will also be able to sign up for special notifications.

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