LPR pilot program in Nashville, Tennessee shows impressive results so far

NASHVILLE, TN (WKRN) — The Nashville Police Department’s controversial pilot license plate reading program has been running for about three months now, and the results so far are impressive.

The pilot program began on March 6 and consists of 24 fixed cameras and 10 mobile devices throughout the city.

According to the MNP, LPR readers helped police detain 58 criminals (48 adults and 10 minors).

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If you’ve been driving around Nashville over the past few months, chances are you’ve seen cameras attached to poles or perhaps set up near intersections on mobile trailers.

According to the MNP, 3.5 million vehicles passed by these cameras in the 10 days from May 7 to May 17.

The vast majority of drivers went about their business without any problems. Of those 3.5 million numbers, LPR cameras captured a very small percentage of the tags, 1,458 license plates, that were registered with the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC.

These cars were registered as stolen cars, stolen plates or cars to be searched.

“When we talk about 58 arrests, we are talking about charges like aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, auto theft, auto theft. If your car is stolen, you want to do whatever it takes to get that car back. LPR technology helps us with this; our aviation assets are a bonus,” said Don Aaron, MNPD spokesman.

As part of the Precision Policing Model, the MNPD uses LPR-equipped personnel and two new Air Bus H-125 helicopters equipped with cameras and night vision devices to keep the community safe.

The helicopters have been in service for six months now and give police a distinct advantage in fighting crime while keeping people on the ground safe, aviation officers say.

According to the supplier, LPR cameras can read blue TN license plates at night after a series of upgrades.

The LPR pilot program expires in July. That’s when the Metropolitan Police will submit the data to the Metropolitan Council for further consideration.

There are several examples of helicopters and LPR cameras working together to catch criminals.

For example, on May 10, a Metro LPR camera alerted officers to a stolen Cadillac from Mississippi. The driver was 31-year-old Roderick Poindexter from Memphis. The MNPD said he had warrants for drug and gun offenses and was reported to have used a gun in an April armed carjacking in Southaven, Mississippi.

Officers on the ground tried to stop the Cadillac in a North Nashville parking lot near Charlotte Pike, but it taxied onto I-40 West.

Instead of following the Cadillac, the police helicopter followed it from above.

Later, Poindexter pulled up to a gas station on Highway 70 South. With helicopter guidance, the officers were able to block the Cadillac.

“The big advantage is that we can slow down the process. We no longer have to chase cars with blue lights and sirens, which is a big risk to public safety,” Metro Aviation Sergeant said. Henry Particelli said.

The helicopter camera showed what happened next when the dangerous criminal crashed the police cars, reversed into one car and crashed into another car.

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In the end, Poindexter creates enough space to slip away.

Once again, ground units retreated as the helicopter patiently pursued the vehicle into Cheatham and Williamson counties.

Finally, when the helicopter following the air and ground units was told exactly where Poindexter was, the wanted man turned himself in during a criminal prosecution on Sneed Road in Williamson County.

Particelli said the precise LPRs that spot criminals and the helicopters that help catch them as safely as possible are a huge benefit to Nashville residents.

“While the LPR system is picking up cars that we wouldn’t otherwise know are driving back and forth on the stolen road, getting hit and increasing the force multiplier, we will see something that the patrol car does not see. We will be spotting cars,” Particelli said.

Particelli noted that when the helicopter is in the sky, pilots can see LPR hits and respond to the notification almost immediately by directing ground units to the vehicle. A helicopter can also keep residents and rescuers safe, especially if the suspect has a weapon.

“Absolutely, no question. We have a big advantage that we haven’t had in years, and we’re just now touching what we’re really capable of,” Particelli said.

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The Metropolitan Police said the combination of LPR technology and helicopters is helping the department catch criminals at a time when police are downsizing across the country.

The MNPD told News 2 that the department is 137 officers short of its authorized strength of 1,608.

“However, this does not include the 70 trainee police officers from three grades currently in training at the academy, and four additional trainee classes will begin at the end of the year for a total of eight, a record for 2023,” Aaron added.

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