Fighting crime. That's the job of the Yakima Police Department. Yakima City Council members heard from the department on Tuesday during a discussion about ways to fight growing crime in the city. The department asked the city and city officials agreed to hire two crime analysts and invest in technology to battle the local crime wave. Capt. Jay Seely says the department hasn't had an analyst on staff for the last 5 months because the person left for a job with the federal government. Seely says the analysts provide valuable information to officers on the streets. Seely says because the city is short on the number of officers needed the department must maximize the work of all officers. He says the analysts can reveal information to find the best areas to send officers at certain times and dates. Analysts can view crime statistics and give direction to where officers should be sent to be the most effective.

The city on Tuesday also agreed to purchase of 15 special cameras to be mounted at the entrances to the city to find wanted criminals. They're called Vigilant Automatic License Plate Recognition cameras and the software associated with these cameras will provide information to detectives and patrol quickly and efficiently. A memo to the city from the department says "ten of the cameras will be permanently placed at the entry points of the City of Yakima.  An additional five (5) quick deploy solar cameras would be utilized in high crime areas and can quickly be moved to another location at a moment's notice." The cameras were requested by police to "improve the ability to investigate violent crime and gang violence."
The information gleaned from a license plate provides a photo of the vehicle, geographical information, and date and time.  According to a study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in September of 2012, “ALPR technology is a significant tool in the arsenal of law enforcement and public safety agencies.  It automates a tedious, distracting, and manual process that officers regularly complete in their daily operations, and vastly improves their efficiency and effectiveness in identifying vehicles of interest."
The $110,000 cost and the cost of crime analysts will be funded through city general fund savings.
The Yakima City Council called for the investments in the crime fighting tools on Tuesday.

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