'City Watch' Links Las Vegas Security Systems - Saturday 12th of March 2005

An Eyewitness News investigation uncovered a new tool Metro is using to fight terrorism. This one is a computer program that links police with security systems in casinos, utility plants, and government buildings.

Some 250 properties are in the first phase. The program puts terrorism response plans for each property from casinos on the Las Vegas Strip to water plants to City Hall in the same format. Then the program analyzes the plan to help Metro. The results of the computer analysis will change the way Metro prevents terrorism.

The program is called City Watch. Here's how it can help one casino:

The computer program will suggest improvements to the property's state mandated terrorism response plan. Metro Deputy Chief Mike McClery says City Watch then develops exercises to test the plan. "If you have a response plan that is never tested it's nothing more than a suggestion." Based on the test results the computer program suggests upgrades to the response plan.

The developer, Jeff Beatty, says City Watch goes a step further. If the FBI alerts Metro to a specific credible threat in a certain area, police can enter the threat into the computer and get a list of properties to protect. Beatty says, "It would in descending order starting with the most vulnerable list them out. Here is Property X, Property Y, Property Z. This is the vulnerability that they have."

The results mean Metro can focus their response to the casino that needs the most protection against that certain threat. Beatty adds, "If we get information that they are planning an attack and we use City Watch to prioritize the response and deploy our limited resources where they count the most. We've got the best chance in the 11th hour of defeating that attack."

Deputy Chief McClary agrees pointing out that, "Our prime objective is to stop an event before it occurs." To that end once the computer program is fully active, if a property gives Metro unlimited access, police can tap into any surveillance system through City Watch, which means officers could monitor a suspicious person, or for a crime through any camera at any casino.

It is up to the individual property to decide how much access police will have. The system's cost is $2.2 million. It was paid for by Homeland Security money. Any company that signs on is not charged anything.

The computer program is ready to be fully implemented. This will happen in April.

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