The Fayetteville Police Department said license plate reader cameras that have been in place since November have helped the department make more than 100 arrests, recover more than 30 stolen vehicles and seize three firearms.
The department “has achieved numerous successes for arrests related to homicides, robberies and thefts utilizing this valuable equipment,” police said in a release.
The equipment uses small, high-speed cameras to photograph thousands of plates per minute. They are like “extra eyes’’ for the department, said Lt. D. Holloway, a spokeswoman for the Police Department.
“They’re linked to a computer system,’’ Holloway said. “When say a stolen vehicle (is reported), that computer sends that information out to officers on patrol. With those cameras – in addition to cameras we already have throughout the city – it definitely assists us in our crime-fighting strategies and abilities.
“It also gives us the location of that vehicle,’’ Holloway said. “They are definitely beneficial to us …”
There are 30 cameras posted at various locations throughout the city, Holloway said. Another 26 are expected to be in place by the fall.
“It’s an extremely successful program,” she said. “We’re happy with the results of the success so far and the amount of crime that it assists us in combating.”
There are also 118 non-license plate cameras operating in the city, which allows employees with the department’s Crime Information Center to monitor specific areas of Fayetteville.
The camera technology provides coverage of all major roads leading into and out of the city, police said.
The license plate reader cameras scan license plates and vehicles that are run through a database. If it’s a vehicle that law enforcement has been looking for, an alert is sent to patrol officers.
The software used for the LPR camera system cost $30,750, which the department received through a 2018 grant. The price of two cameras is $20,075, Holloway said.
The Rekor database for the cameras is housed at the Police Department. The Crime Information Center has access to it, along with a limited number of officers.
Housed inside the center are a few crime analysts and a lot of technology “that correlates the incidents and names to help them focus on areas and certain people,” Police Chief Gina Hawkins said in a February interview.
“We are driven by data, incidents and trends. That helps us guide the direction that we’re going,” Hawkins said in the interview. “We look at the data and say, ‘Where do we go this week?' Or, 'What’s the trend going to say about where we go or where do we move?’”
The Police Department said the license plate reader cameras have helped it:
As the camera technology has spread, the American Civil Liberties Union has called for law enforcement agencies to have policies in place for how the information is used. Those policies should include details on how the data will be used and how it is shared, the ACLU has said.
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.