HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Criminals beware! If you break into cars or commit crimes in Hendersonville parks, you have an excellent chance of being caught.
News 2 learned that the city parks department has gone on the offensive to protect citizens and catch criminals.
“We are trying to keep the bad guys out and protect our citizens,” Parks Director Andy Gilley says.
Recently, the city installed three new License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras, in three of the city’s busiest parks.
“Anytime a bad guy or person of interest to law enforcement comes in here and their tag is read, it will notify our entire police department,” said Gilley.
The camera standing at the entrance at Drake’s Creek Park reads every license plate that comes and goes.
“To me, it is like having officers in the park full time almost.”
There’s also one at Veterans Park and another at Memorial Park.
According to Parks Director Gilley, the cameras were installed this winter, just in time for the peak season a few weeks away.
“We are trying to be proactive, not reactive.”
Parking lots are target-rich environments for criminals. Citizens often leave doors unlocked and windows down. They often leave valuables in plain sight.
In October, News 2 covered smash and grab car burglaries at Mary’s Magical Place. The suspects, known as the Felony Lane Gang, were ultimately arrested in Florida.
Gilley says with the new cameras, these criminals might not have made it out of the park before HPD was on top of them.
“It could be the police would have gotten there before a crime would have even happened if it was a felony lane gang or if someone else who is a known criminal,” Gilley says. “We want to make sure our citizens are vigilant. This is not a cure-all. You need to lock your car and be careful always, but this will hopefully prevent and deter bad guys if they come in here.”
There are nine parks in Hendersonville. Gilley says if the program works well, the parks department hopes to ask for two more cameras in the next budget.”
Gilley says the three cameras at the three parks cost about $100,000 total.