Video investigations specialist’s work helps end vandalism spree

Austin Nettleton

With a service area as large as RTD’s, it is virtually impossible for Transit Police officers to be everywhere all at once. Thankfully, the fine folks in the Video Investigations Department can keep an eye on the system – and for one video investigations specialist, her attentiveness and keen eye to details prevented a vandalism spree from getting worse.

Video Investigations Specialist Jaime Ruddock received a series of vandalism reports earlier this month that were reported to Transit Police by Treasury and Facilities Maintenance, both reporting significant damage to glass features and ticket vending machines (TVMs) around the district. Ruddock noticed these reports came in around the same time, suggesting the incidents were related.

It was time for Ruddock to begin her investigation.

She began to look at the video feeds from Federal Center, Lone Tree City Center, Lakewood•Wadsworth and JeffCo Government Center•Golden stations.

“I noticed the type of damage was similar and, after the first two cases, I was confident it was the same suspect,” Ruddock said.

She started working to connect the dots, putting together a timeline of cases with photos of the suspect at each known incident location. She noticed the suspect wore similar clothing to each location and behaved in a similar manner each time. However, these details were still not quite enough to identify the suspect.

It didn’t take long for the suspect to reveal himself again.

Around 6 p.m. June 3, Ruddock recognized the suspect on the security cameras going back and forth between Knox and Perry stations. The Security Command Center was notified, and Transit Police officers were dispatched.

Despite Ruddock’s quick action, the suspect had left RTD property by the time Transit Police arrived. However, it wasn’t long before the individual’s vandalism streak came to a swift end.

“With photos obtained during active surveillance, an updated ‘Be on the Look Out (BOLO)’ was put out to partner law enforcement agencies,” Ruddock said.

The following day, a Lakewood Police Department officer noticed an individual near Lakewood•Wadsworth Station who matched the description of the suspect from the BOLO. Lakewood apprehended the individual, who was identified and jailed on an unrelated warrant.

This incident is a testament to the power of collaboration. Ruddock worked with internal and external partners to bring an end to a lengthy vandalism spree that spanned RTD property and other public and private locations.

She credits new technologies that made what would have been a very lengthy investigation into one that took mere days to complete.

“Using artificial intelligence technology available to video investigators, a search for the suspect during long periods of time connected him to more than 10 cases of significant vandalism spanning several stations over a two-week period,” Ruddock said. “A manual search through video for this length of time would have taken several investigators several shifts with potentially less reliable results.”

Total monetary damages are still being calculated by RTD. Transit Police is working closely with a Lakewood Police Detective and anticipates felony criminal mischief charges to be filed.

RTD is proud of the work the Video Investigations team has done to ensure the safety and security of the agency’s facilities.

By Austin Nettleton