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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Gets AV Upgrade

Police department upgrades systems in advance of the Democratic National Convention.

Biamp AudiaFlex mixer

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) has a long history of excellence borne out of a commitment to making Charlotte, N.C., one of the safest large cities in the United States. With almost 1,800 police officers and nearly 600 civilian staff, the CMPD serves an area of 438 square miles for a population of more than 800,000.

Through a range of crime prevention, community intervention and enforcement strategies, the CMPD is working to reduce crime, increase safety and develop proactive, long-term solutions to crime problems and challenges faced by the city and county residents within our jurisdiction.

In advance of the 2012 presidential election, our city was selected to host the Democratic National Convention. The event was the first nominating convention of a major party ever held in North Carolina, and it was projected to draw over 35,000 delegates and visitors to our city. This translated into a need for expanded security, surveillance and operations communications.

To ensure that these were in place, our police department needed a complete audio/video solution that evenly distributed sound across the Command Center for weekly briefings and camera monitoring. The Command Center also required a full mix-minus design for voice reinforcement. Though designed for the Democratic National Convention, our new Command Center needed to be functional and appropriate for everyday meeting and presentation use beyond the event.

With the partnership of both design consultant Integrated Design Solutions and A/V system integrator ClarkPowell, CMPD developed and built a new Command Center containing with two adjoining conference rooms — one for our chief of police and the other to be used for general meetings. The audio system selected was a Biamp Audia system, because it provided the ability to customize the input/output configuration and scale to the appropriate size for the room.

We leveraged the Audia solution and tied all three rooms together with one large digital matrix switching system, with video conferencing capabilities in each room. The Command Center has a 3 x 10-foot video wall made up of LCD displays, and is equipped with 28 microphones designed for use with true mix-minus audio systems. This display configuration provides our officers and support staff with the visual expanse on par with the audio system.

System flexibility allows for a customizable I/O configuration and appropriate scale for the size of all three rooms. With up to 24 inputs and outputs available on each AudiaFlex chassis, we can easily scale the system as our future needs grow and change.

Because ClarkPowell designed an audio solution consisting entirely of Biamp Audia products, the system was quicker and easier to install than a system with components from multiple manufacturers. I believe the greatest strengths of the installation are its flexibility and scalability.

Meeting the needs of our large space and multi-function environment was critical to making this installation affordable and flexible over the long term.

Stephen Willis is a major with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Police Department. He can be reached at