The Lebanon Police Department will look at adding license plate recognition cameras throughout the city with hopes of connecting with the Mt. Juliet Police Department for widespread vehicle monitoring.
Lebanon Police Chief Mike Justice said the cameras would be used to help the agency identify and monitor stolen vehicles and vehicles connected to people on various offender registries.
Justice said the city has seen instances of people driving stolen vehicles from Nashville that enter the city and commit car burglaries and other crimes, which could be curbed with the new system.
“Recently, we had a case of that. They came in a stolen vehicle, went to some apartment complexes, went to unlocked vehicles and did some burglaries,” said Justice, who noted a patrolman noticed the suspicious activity and was able to apprehend the suspects after a foot pursuit.
“These cameras — as you exit the interstate coming into the city — will read thousands of license plates, basically, a minute, and if that car has been entered as stolen in the state computer system, it will alert us that vehicle has entered the city,” Justice said. “What that gives us an opportunity to do is try to monitor to find that vehicle and act accordingly.”
Justice said the cameras could also help the agency find suspects and fugitives.
“They have absolutely no traffic-related enforcement activity. They don’t write citations. They don’t catch people running red lights. It has no enforcement action whatsoever, as far as traffic-related offenses,” Justice said.
Justice said the cameras could allow the city to analyze traffic in certain areas, which could be used for traffic studies.
“Some of the crimes that (Justice) spoke of happened over in my district. It could potentially have been prevented, according to the chief and I, if we had this type of cameras,” Ward 1 Councilor Joey Carmack said.
Lebanon Finance Director Stuart Lawson said the system would cost about $200,000 over the next five years with an initial cost of about $12,000 and an annual cost of about $36,000.
Justice said the areas the cameras could be placed include: Interstate 40 offramp areas, Highway 231, Sparta Pike, State Route 109 and Hartmann Drive.
Justice noted the city could utilize the same company and program as the Mt. Juliet Police Department, which started its license plate recognition program, Guardian Shield, last year. The city currently has about 40 license plate reading cameras.
MJPD started the program April 1, 2020, at a yearly contract cost of $89,000, according to Capt. Tyler Chandler. Last month, the Mt. Juliet system helped the department capture a vehicle involved in criminal activity for the 100th time.
Mt. Juliet vehicle theft is down 36 percent, and vehicle burglaries are down 48 percent, said Chandler.