MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — Mt. Juliet police reflected on the success of its license plate reader program the day after Metro Council voted to implement its own LPR pilot program.
Mt. Juliet implemented its LPR cameras in 2020; the cameras detect license plate numbers connected to crimes. Since then, officers have recovered 142 stolen cars, apprehended more than 100 wanted criminals, and located multiple missing adults and children.
In addition, Captain Tyler Chandler with the Mt. Juliet Police Department told News 2 crimes, including robbery and car burglary rates, are the lowest they’ve been in years.
“We can’t directly point to the license plate reader program as directly lowering that crime, but it’s definitely a good correlation, because since that program has been in place and we’ve been using it effectively, crime continues to drop in our area,” Chandler said.
While Metro won’t implement its LPR pilot program until the spring, the technology has already helped the city solve multiple crimes thanks to Mt. Juliet’s LPR cameras.
“If you look at our numbers, by far the people we arrest with stolen cars or what stolen cars they’re in, it’s all originating out of Nashville,” Chandler said.
The LPRs have come with some challenges, though.
Chandler told News 2 since officers are encountering more criminals because of the LPRs, they’re more likely to get into dangerous pursuits. The department has had to adjust some of its policing techniques to keep the public safe.
“That’s one thing we had to adapt to ensure we were operating in a safe manner as a police department is let’s change our tactics, let’s work on ways to intercept these offenders in the hot listed vehicles in ways where they don’t know they’re being watched by the police,” Chandler said. “Then, when there’s a moment to take that vehicle and make a stop on it and take that person into custody, we can do that safely without starting a pursuit.”
Chief John Drake of the Metro Nashville Police Department told Metro Council Tuesday a recent murder at a Hermitage gas station could have been prevented if the city had LPR cameras, because the car the two 15-year-old suspects were driving that night was stolen days prior.
“I could go through and name incident after incident after incident where license plate readers would have helped,” Drake said.
Metro has not decided what LPR company it will use during the pilot program, or where it will place its cameras.