BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – All six Bay County law enforcement agencies have come together to secure a state-of-the-art technology system for fighting crimes.
It’s called the ‘Bay Real-Time Operation Center’ or ‘BAYROC.’
It uses real-time technology, like traffic cameras, to give information to law enforcement to help solve crimes.
Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said a good example of how the system is used is if a crime happens on the beach, they can use BAYROC to follow the person’s car through other areas of the county, track that car and communicate the information to the law enforcement agency in charge.
“It uses an integrated system combining school cameras, traffic cameras, business cameras, and license plate readers, as well as other resources and databases that are available to law enforcement,” Ford said.
BAYROC is housed at BCSO. It currently has two full-time analysts and a supervisor.
The goal is to provide real-time information that can be directly communicated to law enforcement to help solve crimes. BAYROC became operational in November 2021.
Since then, local law enforcement has already had success with the program.
“By contacting an analyst, we were able to track down an elderly woman who had early dementia that was tracked all over the county and ultimately located in Alabama,” Springfield Police Chief Barry Roberts said. “It is a great program.”
BAYROC can also locate where all law enforcement vehicles are stationed compared to where the calls for service are.
Bay County agencies used combined grant money to pay for the system.
Agency leaders said communication will be key to this operation.
“We have such a good relationship with our police departments and we are all working toward the same goal that we are able to do it all and work together,” Sheriff Ford said.
Ford said they are aware of privacy concerns. He said the license plate reader technology cannot truly identify the driver, just the plates. The rest must be done using other law enforcement files.
“The license plate readers, they do not identify who you are as you are driving around,” Sheriff Ford said. “It basically captures an image of your license plate and it runs it against a hotlist, which is a list of tag numbers that are already associated with felons or Amber Alerts.”
The cameras being used are the ones that have been at Bay District Schools for years, and the traffic cameras are available to the public on the county website. Ford said they have a short retention period.
Within the next few months, BCSO plans to expand the operation center so it can hold up to eight analysts.