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Eyes in the sky: Inside the room where MBPD watches the city's streets

(WPDE)

It's behind several locked doors, in an area of the building that doesn't appear to be any more important than the rest of the offices inside police headquarters.

But this room is no ordinary office.

Mounted on the wall are six large TV screens, each showing multiple views from some of the Myrtle Beach Police Department's more than 800 cameras scattered throughout the city.

A notice flashes on one screen, from a license plate reader showing information about a car that just drove by.

We were told to keep the camera lens away from that one.

There are multiple desks for investigators to watch and do their high-tech work, looking for suspects in everything from shootings to car crashes.

"We've captured footage that's been critical in the capture and identification of the suspects," Captain Joey Crosby said. "If we didn't have that evidence, the likelihood is we wouldn't have ever solved that case."

Crosby said time and time again, the cameras have proven their worth. Most recently, in two overnight shootings on Ocean Boulevard.

"We have you captured on footage, and if someone tries to deny [it], you just hit the play button and he's able to see himself," Crosby explained.

However, the system wasn't installed to catch shooters in the act.

Crosby said the first cameras were installed along beach accesses to prevent car thefts while people were on the beach.

Through time, he said, cameras were added at major intersections and along major roads. When officers believe an area needs an extra set of eyes, the department installs artificial ones that feed back to the same room.

Crosby said officers responding to a car crash sometimes know who is at fault before they arrive at the scene.

Still, he said privacy is a concern for many people, which is why officers make sure the cameras are only aimed at roads and public right-of-ways like sidewalks, in places that are normally considered plain view.

"I can provide instant after instant to where individuals have been apprehended because of these cameras," he said.

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