Investigating crimes in the Hudson Valley became easier and more streamlined this past spring.
In some cases, detectives in the field were able to avoid hours of tedious busy-work after consulting with crime analysts at the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center in Goshen. The center, which just began operations, is connected to a state-supported network of records from police departments, DMVs, jails and the federal probation department.
It serves 65 police agencies as well as district attorneys from Orange, Dutchess and Ulster counties. It allows police to consult with crime analysts who are trained on the latest social media mining tools, facial recognition software and license plate recognition software. An officer can send in raw information or photos, and these analysts get to work.
Some have been brought on board as analysts, while others are officers who are transitioning to this data-sharing center from the field.
At Wednesday's formal opening, Orange County Deputy Kelsey McDonough spent time at her computer showing other officers how easily she can obtain DMV photos, license plate numbers, mugshots and other information that comes through the eight other crime analysis centers around New York State.
"It gives us the ability to share information and work with other agencies," said Deputy McDonough, who was recently assigned here on a full-time basis. "This ties it all together, and gives us that opportunity."
The center is the ninth center funded and built through the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, which said in a statement that the entire network of centers has had a hand in solving more than 2,500 cases since 2007.
Analysts here at the Hudson Valley center, which is located in the renovated basement of the Orange County Emergency Management building, said in just a few months of being in operation they have helped solve a bank robbery, helped solve a fraud case, and helped identify a suspect who was using social media to trick teenagers into sharing explicit images of themselves.
Currently, the center is staffed by 14 full and part-time crime analysts from surrounding law enforcement agencies.
While it is currently a Monday-through-Friday daytime operation, officials said more staff from other agencies will be assigned to the center, bringing the total staff to 20, and eventually expanding operations to evenings and weekends.