Shelby County Sheriff’s office says new cameras helping reduce crimes

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — The Shelby County Sheriff’s office says it is using state of the art technology to help solve crimes.

SCSO is using a certain kind of license plate reader to help catch criminals. Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant David Ballard talks about the technology.

Right now, 106 cameras have been placed throughout SCSO’s jurisdiction. The cameras help identify locations of wanted vehicles in seconds.

When a camera picks up a hit on a certain plate, it’s relayed to a dispatcher to verify the information. The dispatcher can then push resources to the right area, which allows deputies time to prepare for different scenarios. 

According to Flock Safety, the company behind the cameras in our area, they’ve helped SCSO with two Amber Alerts, make eight arrests in homicides, recover 96 stolen cars, and account for a nearly 17 percent reduction in certain crimes since their implementation in 2019. 

But Ballard says he thinks those numbers are actually higher.

“Because some of the time we lose some of these statistics in the narrative of a report,” said Ballard.

Ballard says the department is working on crunching their own numbers. He talked about one of the benefits the department wasn’t necessarily expecting. 

“What I think is of value is other municipalities own cameras as well. And what that allows us to do is to reach out to those other municipalities, or they’ll reach out to us and we agree to share each other’s cameras, it’s a click of a button,” said Ballard.

Additionally, Ballard they will work those agencies for information to keep everyone in the loop.

“We’ve always worked well with our law enforcement partners but this has brought networking to another level,” said Ballard.

Ballard says the cameras allow investigators to track crime trends and that can often lead to new leads.

“Once we see these patterns continually now we can push assets as far as uniform patrol cars to those areas, special operation to these areas so we can get better coverage and intervene in these crimes,” said Ballard.

Ballard also addressed those who are worried about privacy concerns.

“We’re only alerted to tags that have gone on NCIC, which we put on NCIC. These tags have had prior contact with law enforcement. So they’ve already done something that made us aware of them. You know John Q Public driving home from work, we don’t know to even look for him,” said Ballard.

Ballard says another benefit of the cameras, they work 24/7. 

He hopes the department can get more in the future.

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