License Plate Recognition System Helps Keep Roads Safe - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

License Plate Recognition System Helps Keep Roads Safe

Franklin Sgt. Doug Prather Franklin Sgt. Doug Prather

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - New technology is helping Franklin police put criminals behind bars. The department has one of the few license plate recognition systems in the state.

The system works so well the department is asking for more.

Franklin is one of the first cities in Middle Tennessee to try license plate recognition technology, and it's apparently a big success.

"We were basically in the testing stages and we've gotten several criminals off the street," said Sgt. Doug Prather.

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

Cameras mounted on the top of the car photographs the vehicle while an infrared light shoots the license plate.

The license plate number is compared to an FBI data base that includes wanted people, amber alerts, terrorist watch lists, stolen license plates and stolen vehicles.

"You can go out and in one shift I've read as many as 10,000 license plates," Prather said.

That's an impressive number -- a number an officer equipped with just a laptop can't come close to matching.

"Physically for an officer to go, it's impossible for him to get maybe more than 100, just by physically typing it into the computer manually," Prather said.

At $25,000 per patrol car the new technology is not cheap. But Prather said it's worth it because the technology not only captures more criminals, but it also removes the element of profiling.

The camera zeroes in on the license plate and not the person driving the car.

The police department is asking the city council to pay for two more license plate recognition systems in next year's budget.

The Department of Homeland Security is considering more than a dozen systems for other police departments in Middle Tennessee including Fairview, Brentwood and Spring Hill.

A spokesperson for the Metro Police Department said the department isn't pursuing the new technology. 

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