The Austin Police Department has a new secret weapon to fight downtown crime. We've obtained exclusive video of its capabilities. As for what it looks like--officers are keeping that top secret.
In test video from APD, people walk by the camera unaware of its existence. Officers say you won't notice it either. Very soon it will be placed in the entertainment district.
"We can zoom, tilt. We can look at the video from Houston or Dallas anywhere as long as we have our computer and our log in information," said APD Commander Jason Dusterhoft.
The mobile camera is so top secret they wouldn't even let us look at it. I asked it were mounted in an unmarked car. Commander Jason Dusterhoft described it as a small object that you wouldn't be able to tell apart from anything else you may see along the streets.
Dusterhoft says this is the future. APD is moving away from the expensive, fixed HALO cameras to cheaper, mobile ones.
"If we decide to go to a high crime area of 6th and Trinity where you have fights and disturbances or you can go to 6th and I-35 where we've had issues there. These are places that we want to deploy this mobile camera to make sure we have these things on tape and we can capture the bad guy," Dusterhoft said.
There are 41 cameras in the HALO system, but there are places officers still can't see.
Two major crimes have been captured on video downtown recently by cameras APD didn't own. In November, a man fired shots into a crowd off West 5th Street injuring two people. Luckily, someone had their cell phone out.
Then, in late January a person got video of a fight off East 6th and I-35. Six people who appeared in the video are now wanted for assault and theft.
"That was somebody's personal video that we had a hard time accessing immediately," Dusterhoft said. "Where if we have our own videos and we know it's in a high crime area or just an area of interest, that's something we can pull up immediately."
Dusterhoft says the mobile camera will be used in high crime areas throughout the city. Downtown is just the first stop.
"We're always out there, we're always watching whether you think we are or not. It could be that mobile or the halo system. You're robbing somebody, you're vandalizing something, guess what you're probably going to be on camera and you're probably going to get caught," said Dusterhoft.