New director wants to be more proactive with watch center

BALTIMORE - It's the nerve center -- the place where Baltimore police are working, waiting, and watching. 

Here in the watch center hundreds of city crime cameras are viewed, there is a spot at the table for every agency, serving as the analytic brain behind the policing brawn. 

 It is impressive, but not impressive enough for its new director.

"There's a lot of other things that I think that we could be doing proactively," direction Nicole DeMotto said. 

DeMotto was just appointed to her role in July by Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.

DeMotto comes from the Milwaukee Police Department where she worked as a crime analyst. Her mission here in Baltimore as she explained it us was to make this watch center more valuable to crime fighting in Baltimore city.

 Borrowing from her experience in Wisconsin, she wants to make the intelligence-led policing effort here more flexible, smarter and generate more useful information instead of acting like the confusing clearing house of information that it can be now.

"We need to focus on more analytical pieces.  A lot of what we are doing now is trying to support investigations, but we can be more proactive," DeMotto said.

And that she says requires a commitment of resources; more analysts, more money and more equipment.

 As the social media sphere grows to include gaming systems and so -called second life or virtual realities, there is even more to watch, track and analyze.

"It's difficult to stay on top of every new technology that comes out.  We have to not only know what's available, we need to know how to use it, how to tap into it, who's tapped into it and what we might be able to get from it."

In the fight against gangs online, analysts are already gleaning valuable information by cracking codes on various social platforms but the cyber breadcrumbs are falling in between more and more seats.

The Baltimore city watch center needs to continue to learn how to find them in order to no longer just support the crime fight, but eventually dictate it.

"I want to be able to call out to the officers on the street and say here go...and we're getting there."

DeMotto says she would like to get there in another 18 months..

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