New St. Paul police unit utilizes modern technology to fight crime

St. Paul Police are giving a first look at an intelligence unit credited with helping solve crimes using modern technology.

The Criminal Intelligence Unit was started a year ago, as a way to assist various units in the police department with intelligence gathering. Its creation takes some of the burden off investigators and allows for better shared communications.

"We decided to centralize it," said head of the Criminal Intelligence Unit Commander John Linssen. "There’s all this information that’s out there, but there wasn’t one central place for it to work through. And this gives us one central place to work through."

From their desks at police headquarters, officers are able to relay critical information about an active situation to officers on the scene. In addition, they are skilled at digging up critical research on criminal suspects.

"We’re a Google search on steroids," said Linssen. "We are trying to work smarter with the technology that we have."

On March 1, 2022, the SWAT team was able to arrest someone without injury during a hostage situation at a gas station, thanks in part to work by the unit. According to Commander Tim Flynn, the unit was able to get them information about the suspect they otherwise wouldn’t have had right away. The unit was also able to access cameras within the gas station and keep officers on the scene updated on what was happening inside.

"It’s a safer way to do it," said Flynn. "It allows me to focus on the tactical portion…. I need to focus on tactically what is going to do."