Police Use Infrared Technology To Crack Cases - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Police Use Infrared Technology To Crack Cases

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There's a new way for police to track down criminals and keep neighborhoods safe.

It's new technology you're starting to see already on police cruisers in Franklin.

For the most part the officer only has to drive the car. Computers and cameras do the rest of the work.

No longer do police officers have to type in a plate number to get information about the vehicle and driver. Cameras mounted on the patrol car do it for them.

There will be an alert if the camera captures a vehicle that is stolen or if the owner is wanted for arrest.

The license plate recognition technology was developed by a company in Knoxville.

PIPS Technology developed the system with the help of money from the British. It is a leader in automated license plate recognition technology.

"We developed the technology in the UK originally for back in the 80's when all of the IRA bombings were taking place," Brian Shockley said.

Four cameras are mounted on top of the patrol car.

"Each camera is actually two cameras in one," Shockley said. "There's an infrared camera and a color camera."

Infrared light reads the license plate and passes the information to a computer processor in the trunk.

"It looks for a certain size and reflective property.  When it sees there's a plate in the field of view that triggers the camera to begin capturing images," Shockley said.

Wireless technology checks the plate number with national police databases.

It happens in less than a second.  

Police can use the system to gather intelligence.

"It might be the make, model, year of vehicle," Shockley said. "It might be the nature of the violation of the reporting agency."

It's one more tool police can use to track down criminals and make neighborhoods safer. The license plate recognition technology is used by only a handful of police departments in Tennessee.

Metro is not one of them.

In addition to Franklin, police departments in Knoxville and Oak Ridge have at least one car equipped with the system. The system can cost up to $25,000 per patrol car.

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