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How Jonesboro PD improved its real-time crime center operational intelligence

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Jonesboro Police Department in Arkansas uses The RATT in its real-time crime center operations and places it in locations like fairgrounds where a permanent camera is not feasible.

Critical Tech Solutions

More and more law enforcement agencies are seeing the value in real-time crime centers (RTCCs) and are implementing these outposts with a lot of success. In many departments, they often start small and grow into sophisticated hubs of information, linking a number of advanced types of technology together to gain a better view of what’s happening in a community.

Such was the case with the Jonesboro Police Department (JPD) in Arkansas. As one of the first RTCCs in the state, they started with only a few cameras, and over the last three years have grown their network to over 700 cameras throughout the area. Their RTCC brings together standard security cameras, traffic cameras at intersections and license plate readers in high-crime areas.

JPD recently added another layer of technology to its RTCC, one that’s more versatile than any of its fixed cameras throughout the city. During the summer of 2022, JPD acquired The RATT (Rapid All-Terrain Tower), a hitch-mounted mobile surveillance tower that can extend up to 30 feet in the air. The department uses it in a range of surveillance situations and finds it to be a great alternative to other types of camera towers.

“We can use The RATT on a short-term basis to get extra eyes in an area where we don’t want to commit to putting up a camera,” said Wade Shapp, RTCC video analyst at Jonesboro PD. “Our biggest long-term use of it is at our fair in the fall. We’re only at our fairgrounds a few weeks out of the year, so we can’t justify putting permanent cameras there.”


Jonesboro PD is no stranger to technology and even with their plethora of cameras and other equipment, The RATT continues to be a stand-out choice in a variety of deployment settings.

“Drones are great for investigation purposes but, in a way, The RATT could be considered a tethered drone where we don’t have to worry about issues like batteries,” said Shapp. “Once it’s connected to a vehicle, it has an infinite amount of power.”

Unlike other mobile surveillance options, The RATT draws power from either a 12-volt DC trailer plug or a vehicle’s cigarette lighter. Compared to a camera trailer, it’s incredibly lightweight at around 100 pounds, making it simple for one officer to deploy in just a matter of minutes.

“Before The RATT we didn’t really have anything like this,” Shapp continued. “We did not have a video trailer and while we do have a drone division, the drones would not work for what we needed them for. What I’ve come to know and learn in our time is that trailers are rather bulky.”

Shapp explains that departments with limited space may not even have room to park a camera trailer somewhere and shares that he stores The RATT behind his office desk with the equipment neatly contained in a single Pelican case.

“It’s so much easier than having to deal with a trailer,” he said. “Whenever we want to deploy it, it can be rolled out, put on a vehicle and we can have it up in a matter of minutes.”


The RATT has come in most useful during the Northeast Arkansas District Fair, a nine-day event that saw nearly 60,000 in attendance in 2023. The department used The RATT in conjunction with other cameras to set up a triangle-shaped perimeter and noted it was the easiest to use as far as deployment, set up and overall stand-alone surveillance.

In many instances, live camera feeds at big events need to be monitored by more than just those back at an RTCC. While Shapp says the agency has the ability to remotely operate The RATT from their RTCC, he is also able to include others in their surveillance efforts.

“I would deploy it and then send a private link to any admin or officers that were out working the event so they could watch it,” he explained. “It’s super easy to share, whereas with the trailer we used to have, with as many people as we had at the event, when you put that many cell phones together, signals get slowed down and lag. With The RATT, I don’t have to deal with crazy passwords and connection issues – it’s very streamlined.”

Use of The RATT came in especially handy in 2023, as there was a report of a missing child at the fair. Officers were able to scan the area far more quickly and safely than they could using a drone or a boots-on-the-ground approach.

“Toward the end of the fair late one night there was also a fight that broke out and it just so happened to be right in front of the camera,” Shapp added. “Because The RATT is elevated above everything, I was able to say, ‘This is the person that started it.’ It was so much easier to identify what happened versus consulting with witnesses. We were able to, in this case, apprehend the suspect before they could leave the area or cause more issues for us.”


The Jonesboro PD has had an easy time adopting The RATT as it fits in seamlessly with their other RTCC monitoring efforts. In the rare cases where they have run into technology issues, the team at Critical Tech Solutions helped resolve their concerns quickly.

“They have great customer service,” said Shapp. “When something’s wrong or you need troubleshooting, you don’t have to deal with customer service or a sales rep – you’re talking to the person who made it and who runs the business.”

Visit Critical Tech Solutions, makers of The RATT.

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Courtney Levin is a Branded Content Project Lead for Lexipol where she develops content for the public safety audience including law enforcement, fire, EMS and corrections. She holds a BA in Communications from Sonoma State University and has written professionally since 2016.