License plate recognition cameras being installed soon on Clark Bridge


St. Louis police say a suspect rammed their car at a police officer. That's after Real-Time Crime Center cameras tracked the car when the license plates came up as stolen.

Police say when they got there, the suspect drove towards them and hit the passenger side as the officer was trying to get out of the car at Tucker and 13th Street Wednesday morning. An officer fired one shot, no one was hurt but the suspect got away.

The police chief says this is just one example of how technology is changing the way police track down criminals. City police installed the Real Time Crime Center a year and a half ago. It's a unique network of cameras, giving police eyes all over the city.

"Every day we see benefits from the technology in our Real Rime Crime Center," said Police Chief Sam Dotson.

The operation is a combination of police cameras and security cameras. But the chief says the license plate readers have proven to be invaluable.

"Technology drew us to this vehicle, if it wasn't for the technology we wouldn’t have been drawn to this vehicle so we had a chance to take a criminal off the street. We've taken hundreds of criminals off the street because of the technology, it works," said Chief Dotson.

The license plate readers are mounted on dozens of traffic lights throughout the city. Since the cameras were installed, police say they've made 215 arrests and filed 591 charges. They've also recovered 21 illegal firearms and tracked down 91 stolen cars.

Chief Dotson said, "This is the investment that we've made in our Real Time Crime Center where there’s a system that reads license plates and runs them against a database of stolen cars, cars wanted for crimes. This car was in that database, officers got an alert, they responded to that area."

The chief says while it's no substitute for officers on the streets, the two work hand in hand.

"It's no secret I need more police officers, I've asked for more officers without them, it has to be police and technology officers and technology."

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