Chief Jeff Bliemeister says almost 1,200 videos were referred to the department’s forensic analysts last year, a sharp jump compared to the nearly 240 videos in 2009. The unit processes the footage to help detective identify suspects. It had a backlog of nearly 290 cases as of Jan. 16.
“We are forced to triage our work there because we have one individual that is full-time assigned and then several part-time employees,” Bliemeister said.
The abundance of videos is due to an increase in businesses and homeowners in the city with their own video surveillance systems, as well as the proliferation of cellphone video, Bliemeister said.
Analysts have been able to increasingly pull images from the videos that lead to arrests, Bliemeister said. Analysts were able to clear 40 percent of cases with video evidence publicized on Crimestoppers, he said. The city’s overall crime clearance rate is 24 percent.
Clearing a case typically means that prosecutors have enough evidence to fil formal charges, but doesn’t always result in a conviction.
Nearly 10,000 crimes were reported to police last year, about a 2 percent increase from the previous year. Investigators cleared more than half of aggravated assaults and about a third of robbery cases. Police were less successful with residential burglaries, with a clearance rate of just 8 percent, Bliemeister said.