Cameras on Patrol
Seeking to address cases of property theft while maximizing limited police officer staffing, the Town of Cheraw installed a network of cameras capable of reading license plate numbers automatically. This cost-effective solution uses strategically placed cameras that operate continuously. The system is also connected to the National Crime Information Center, alerting the department when it detects wanted vehicles. The system allows police to review vehicles traveling around the time of a reported crime, potentially narrowing the list of suspects.
The initial 24 cameras received funding from the town’s general fund, with each camera leased for $2,000 annually, adding up to less than the cost of one additional patrol officer. Police first tested them in an area that receives support from a Community Development Block Grant Neighborhood Revitalization Program, where an initially high property crime rate soon dropped by 60%. In two years of operation, the program has helped find three missing individuals, recover 34 stolen vehicles, notify nearby agencies of another 33 stolen vehicles, and recover 27 stolen license plates. The town also used an information campaign to explain the cameras’ purpose to residents and warn potential criminals about them.
The town plans to expand the system to 48 cameras, allowing for coverage of not only the major entry points to the town but also the gateways to individual neighborhoods.
Contact Rob Wolfe at email@example.com or 843.537.7283.