Cameras are watching you in East Tennessee; here’s what they’re looking for

The Knoxville Police Department is using license plate reading cameras to assist them in arrests.
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Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:49 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Since June, officers have recovered or seized 82 vehicles, eight firearms, and nearly $1 million worth of property from reports related to the Flock cameras.

The Knoxville Police Department deployed more than a dozen Flock cameras in June.

The cameras were purchased from the company Flock Safety using grant money, meaning they did not cost the City of Knoxville money to purchase them.

Lieutenant Chris McCarter with KPD says the cameras have been an invaluable tool at helping officers track down criminals and police high-crime areas.

“These camera systems will alert an officer in the area if a person of interest enters that area. It’s invaluable for us to have. It’s like having officers standing in one given area for a period of time” said McCarter.

McCarter says the cameras have led to arrests for 93 individuals for 264 total charges. Those charges include drug possession, stolen property, possession of firearms by a convicted felon.

The cameras are relocated frequently to areas based on KPD’s data on crime. The pictures can then be used as evidence prosecuting those cases, says District Attorney Charme Allen.

“We are at a state now in a criminal investigation where the public expects we use technology,” said Allen.

When prosecuting a case, the DA”s office presents facts and evidence to a judge or jury. The video recordings can be helpful pieces of evidence along with witness testimony to prove a case.

“As soon as a crime is committed, law enforcement as well as the victims of the crime really want to solve the crime as soon as possible,” said Allen.

Their office has prosecuted cases of arrests made because of the cameras.

“It’s helped us get drug dealers off of the streets, it’s help with sex offenders keeping them away from children, recover stolen property faster, and find missing people, even Amber Alerts,” said Allen.

The company says the video evidence is stored for 30 days and then erased, unless it is needed to prosecute a case. The company does not use speed detection or facial recognition software.

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