Peoria Police use new crime-fighting tool on the roads

Posted at 4:40 AM, Sep 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-22 13:14:21-04

Whether police need to find a suspect who passed through an intersection or want to see the moments leading up to a serious crash, now they can hit the rewind button in the city of Peoria’s Traffic Management Center. 

Fifty cameras are set up at intersections around the city and while some have been there for some time, traffic engineers say the camera and fiber-optic technology has finally caught up so they can record.   

Video is on a 72-hour loop before it gets dubbed over so if something potentially criminal happens police can pull the footage. Thanks to a formal partnership between the transportation department and the police department, there's no red tape to cut through before accessing the video.   

“There's already been about 30 incidents on the police side that it's helped us investigate and look into, from a missing person, hit-and-run accident, major accidents where somebody could've died, criminal it really is helpful,” said police spokesman Officer Brandon Sheffert.  

Policy has outlined that only police can use the footage within specific parameters -- it's not for the general public to review fender-benders for insurance purposes. 

There is a broader benefit as the new system is also helping control the flow of the daily commute. Traffic cameras have already been used to watch and remedy backups in real time but by having a continuous recording, now engineers can also see if traffic patterns change throughout the day, even when the office isn’t manned, as new schools or apartments are built and make improvements.  

"There's nothing worse than a motorist having to stop for a light or having to stop on a side street when there's not a car to stop for," said Assistant City Traffic Engineer Chris Lemka. 

The city has already won a national engineering award for their vision and innovation in using the recording system. 

The program is in the pilot phase and will be reviewed in December.