Freeport Police introduce license plate readers

Local News

FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) – Police will soon have new technology to fight crime in Freeport.

This comes after City Council members gave the green light to buy license plate readers. Freeport Police Chief Matthew Summers is optimistic the new cameras will help catch criminals who may be coming to Freeport from other parts of the state.

“Right now, we only have a certain number of officers that are out there that can see these plates and see these cars. This is just a force multiplier,” Summers said.

Alderman unanimously approved the use of $300,000 in “American Rescue Plan Funding” Monday night to purchase the cameras.

“It’s gonna cover a significant number of major intersections. It’ll cover the ingress and egress, major ports that come into the city,” Summers said. “This is just all a way for us to generate a better picture of what’s going on for our community.”

Summers said that his officers have already witnessed what the cameras can do. Several other departments across the state use similar technology, and have aided investigations in the “Pretzel City.”

“We’ve had crimes that have gone over to Rockford, we’ve had crimes that have gone all the way to downtown Chicago,” Summers said. “We were able to gain data from these systems to help bring our cases to court, so we can prosecute these cases.”

Freeport has experienced an increase of gun violence in 2021. The license plate readers are meant to deter violent crime, but summers believes they will be an all-around asset for the department.

“It’s just not shootings and violent crime, this is going to help us with a lot of different things; retail thefts, drive-offs from gas stations,” Summers said. “This will give us a good opportunity to check the cameras and see ‘hey, this thing happened.’ We’re able to go and see if there was a vehicle involved that matched that description leaving, and get more information from that.”

Summers is hopeful that at least some of the cameras will be up and running by the end of this year.

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