License plate recognition cameras aimed at preventing, solving crime

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The city of Sugar Land plans to implement several license plate recognition, or LPR, cameras at various key intersections in an effort to deter criminal activity.

The initiative is being completed in phases, city officials said. The first phase will include installing cameras throughout District 1—the area north of Hwy. 90.

“An expanded network covering entrances and exits in the northern part of our city meets a need identified by neighborhood associations,” Police Chief Doug Brinkley said. “These cameras will provide a forensic tool to help locate suspects after crimes occur, and I strongly believe the visibility of these cameras will serve as a criminal deterrent.”

Although specific intersections have not yet been targeted for these LPR camera installations, the goal of the program is to ensure complete coverage of all entrances and exits to the area, said Doug Adolph, assistant director of communications with the city of Sugar Land.

The city has been using LPR cameras for several years, Brinkley said. Five police vehicles use the cameras, and there are three static locations throughout the Town Square and First Colony Mall areas where LPR cameras have been installed. By expanding the program’s static locations, public safety officials said they hope to both deter and help solve crimes.

“This initiative is consistent with a departmental focus on technology that provides our officers with important crime-fighting tools,” Brinkley said.

As a motorist travels through the intersection, the LPR cameras record the exterior of the vehicle where it can capture the vehicle’s license plate number.

Footage captured by the cameras will be retained for a maximum of 30 days for review, unless used as evidence in a criminal investigation. There will be no live monitoring except in situations of emergency or natural disaster, according to city officials.

City Council approved a contract with Shrader Engineering for designs of the expanded LPR camera program in June 2013. The initiative was discussed between Brinkley and City Council on March 18. Before moving forward with the initiative, city officials plan to inform the public about the program with the goal of deterring future criminal activity, Adolph said.

After the cameras go live, city officials plan to monitor and review the effectiveness of the program after the first year. City Council will decide whether to expand the use of LPR cameras in other areas of the city based on the results outlined in the review.

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