A Chattanooga Police Department public safety camera led to the quick identification of a suspect in the city's most recent homicide.
Tymetric "Tye" Graham, 32, was shot and killed in front of the Big K Market at 909 Dodson Ave. on April 15, right in the line of sight of one of the most used cameras that live stream video back to the police department on Amnicola Highway.
Investigators pulled the footage and, within about 30 minutes, they had a name in mind: Deontae Talley. Other investigators knew him and recognized his face. Talley turned himself in the next day.
The police department has 29 public safety cameras located around the city, each encased in a large, white box emblazoned with the police department's badge and a flashing blue light. That's in addition to the city's roughly 300 security cameras. They all feed into the department's Real-Time Intelligence Center.
The center resembles a "CSI" TV set with about 16 remarkably detailed live streams displayed on a large screen that takes up the majority of a wall. The footage is saved for no more than 30 days unless it's saved for evidence in a case.
Last year, there were a total of 109 incidents in which video footage was requested. Of those 109 requests, 76 had usable content.
Most utilized cameras:
» 1233 Poplar St. Court
» 700 E. 49th St.
» 1200 Grove St.
» 905 Dodson Ave.
» 2301 Wilson St.
» 2301 Wilcox Blvd.
» 1105 Arlington Ave.
This year, there have been 158 requests for video just in the first two months. Of those, 70 had usable footage. The increase in requests is likely due to better placement of cameras.
The most frequent types of requests are for shootings, shots fired reports, disorders, homicides, robberies and assault.
Now, two-and-a-half years after the first batch of cameras were placed — at a cost of about $365,600, according to news archives — the department is in the process of adding five more cameras and re-evaluating current locations to see if any should move.
The new cameras come with a $68,000 price tag, which was included in the original 2017 capital project approved by the Chattanooga City Council for a five-year roll out.
To see which ones should move, the department's crime analysts look at several metrics, including violent crime statistics and the number of calls for service attached to each camera. Then, neighborhood policing officers look at the results and offer their input.
Lieutenants then take that data and present it to the community at Community Police Interaction Committee meetings in order to gain input from the people who live in those areas.
Police say the cameras are in public areas where citizens have no expectation of privacy.
Roddy previously told the Times Free Press that citizens' concerns over privacy are understandable, but "when you walk down the street, you're probably on no less than a dozen cameras at any one time. Between ATMs and businesses and personal cellphones it's remarkable the amount of times that our activities get captured by third parties. But understand that your police department is doing it to address fear."
Cynthia Stanley-Cash, president of the North Brainerd Neighborhood Association, said that while the cameras work to deter crime or quickly catch suspects, she thinks they tend to displace crime.
"Who's going to commit a crime when they see the cameras?" she said.
Her neighborhood lies just east of a cluster of police department cameras.
"We have beautiful subdivisions and we have elders and seniors that live alone," she said, noting an increase in "walkers cutting through the neighborhood."
"You're scared to get out of your car sometimes when you see people walking that you know don't live in your neighborhood," she said. " You can tell who doesn't live here."
She's glad to have the cameras but said she hopes the city will add more street lights to illuminate the sidewalks so she and her neighbors can feel more at ease.
She plans to be at any meetings to discuss camera placement, she said.
Community suggestions are added to the data report that is given to police Chief David Roddy for him to decide where new cameras should go or existing ones be moved to.
The cost for moving cameras varies, but the department operates under a memorandum of understanding with EPB at a pay rate of $75 per hour for repair, replacement and maintenance.
As for Graham, though a suspect is in custody, his friends and family continue to grieve.
The day after his death, loved ones gathered at the Big K Market to release blue balloons in his memory.
On Friday, "LLTY" (long live Ty) was written in tea lights beneath the camera that captured the moment he died.
Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.