Sugar Land nearing completion on first phase of LPR camera program

The Sugar Land Police Department is wrapping up the testing phase of a new license plate recognition camera system, which will be installed throughout the city in an effort to deter criminal activity.

Eric Robins, assistant police chief for Sugar Land, said the cameras are being tested at the Dairy Ashford Road and West Airport Boulevard intersection. The testing phase is expected to be complete in early 2015 with the installation of the cameras as part of a pilot program following shortly after.

The cameras are designed to capture and process license plate information and will provide a forensic tool to help locate suspects after crimes occur.

"If anyone comes within those areas, their license plate will be read," Robins said. "If a crime occurs, if there's an Amber Alert, or if it is a vehicle attached to a felony crime, that information will be in our computer database and will alert us that the vehicle has gone through our perimeter."

The LPR camera program is split into two phases, Robins said. The first phase is anticipated to be finished in June 2015 and includes the installation of cameras throughout District 1—areas of the city north of Hwy. 90. The program costs approximately $1 million and will be paid for through the police department's $19.2 million budget.

Although the total number of cameras will vary, 33 locations have been identified for installation, said Doug Adolph, assistant communications director for Sugar Land.

Federal Signal Corp., an Illinois-based development company that specializes in signaling equipment, will determine where the cameras are installed. Federal Signal is testing the infrastructure of the camera system and how data is transferred back to the police department, Robins said.

"Once we are comfortable that the system is going to work as they are promising us that it will, then they will move forward," he said.

Once the first phase is complete, Robins said the effectiveness of the cameras would then be measured. The collected information will be presented to City Council for approval to move forward with Phase 2—installation of cameras throughout the rest of the city.