Ogden Area Tactical Analysis Center
Ogden Police Department
Source: Ogden Police Department
Since 2011, the Ogden Police Department (OPD) has operated the Area Tactical Analysis Center (ATAC), which is currently located in the Public Safety Building near Ogden’s historic downtown district. Despite being a relatively small city (population 87,000 as of 2018), Ogden’s ATAC uses a wide array of surveillance technologies, including a citywide network of more than a thousand cameras, camera trailers, automated license plate readers, crime data analysis and mapping software, and advanced imaging software. At one point In ATAC’s infancy, OPD attempted to deploy a surveillance blimp over the city, but the plan was terminated.
In 2008, the OPD Assistant Chief at the time, Steven “Randy” Watt, along with former OPD Chief Jon Greiner, decided to start their own Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) for Ogden after touring the RTCC operation in New York City. OPD’s RTCC opened its doors three year later, and was later rebranded the Area Tactical Analysis Center.
Area Tactical Analysis Center Operations
ATAC is housed in the Ogden Police Department headquarters, just a few blocks from Ogden’s Historic 25th Street entertainment district, near the Municipal Gardens and the Ogden Amphitheatre. Inside, officers and civilian analysts have access to surveillance cameras, geospatial mapping tools, and a variety of other databases.
Outside the Area Tactical Analysis Center
ATAC has access to a large number of cameras throughout the city and county, but news reports and OPD public information provide conflicting information on the exact number of cameras. On the low end, OPD has access to at least 600 city-owned cameras (including “Police Observation Devices” made by Motorola Solutions’ company Avigilon), 600 cameras owned by private businesses, 1,500 cameras from the Weber County School District, as well as “guardian trailers,” which are mobile surveillance towers placed in locations such as Walmart. Since 2015, OPD also has had at least one vehicle mounted with an automated license plate reader (ALPR) and investigators can access a statewide system of ALPR data.
Inside the Area Tactical Analysis Center
The RTCC is charged with providing real-time support to officers on the ground as well as predictive policing-style data analysis to anticipate criminal activity and where resources should be deployed. As of 2017, OPD’s ATAC is staffed with two sworn officers, three full-time civilian analysts, and one part-time civilian analyst. The city’s 2020 budget further included adding a new supervisor position. ATAC also has part-time personnel from the Roy Police Department, Weber County, and the U.S Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Ogden hired the contractor CyberTech to develop a computer system that combines ESRI ArcGIS geospatial mapping and Microsoft’s Fusion Core and Sharepoint systems, which allows the agency to analyze and link criminal justice records with geospatial data and imagery. In addition to Ogden’s camera network, ATAC analysts are also able to access data from ALPRs, social media, and the Good Landlord Program (a program for landlords to share criminal activity information with police).
In 2015, OPD created the FRIENDS program that allows students to report via text message anonymous tips regarding issues such as bullying, suicide, and abuse. These alerts are immediately forwarded to ATAC personnel for investigation.
Uses and Controversies
In Microsoft’s Ogden case study, OPD credits ATAC with assisting in fraud and auto theft cases. In one case reported by FOX 13, ATAC staff worked with a car rental company and OnStar vehicle tracking to locate a suspect in a kidnapping investigation. In 2019, ATAC collaborated with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a highly publicized case that began with an investigation into a $3 fraudulent purchase and ended with the capture of a homicide suspect on a “Most Wanted” list in California.
In 2011, OPD proposed purchasing a 54-foot-long helium-filled blimp outfitted with cameras in partnership with Weber State University’s Utah Center for Aeronautical Innovation and Design. The “Crime Blimp” program came under criticism from local defense attorneys and civil liberties organizations and was the butt of jokes on late night television. The plan was cancelled due to funding issues and concerns over the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval process, according to the Standard-Examiner.
The ACLU has raised questions about whether ATAC is effective and urged great input into both the impact on personal privacy and the city budget. ATAC also was one of many law enforcement agencies using a surveillance product called Geofeedia to monitor social media. Following an ACLU investigation into Geofeedia’s collection of user data, including evidence that it was marketed to surveil Black Lives Matter protests, Twitter and Facebook each cut off Geofeedia’s developer access.
Last Updated Nov. 13, 2020