(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indy is ramping up the high-tech side of crimefighting.
The City-County Council last month approved $150 million in anti-crime spending using federal pandemic relief money. That spending includes adding more than 100 surveillance cameras to document criminal and traffic violations, and more than 300 license-plate readers which can spot wanted vehicles from their description or license number.
Fraternal Order of Police president Rick Snyder says the FOP has been calling for more aggressive use of those tools for a couple of years. He says technology won’t solve crime problems by itself, but says the cameras and plate readers will be important tools to help officers zero in on suspects and repeat offenders. Instead of officers pulling over dozens of cars to locate suspects, Snyder says, the technology can winnow out the useful information.
IMPD Assistant Chief Chris Bailey calls the technology a “force multiplier,” allowing police to monitor a wider territory with their available resources. And he says the cameras can also collect evidence — and unlike human witnesses, can’t be intimidated out of testifying in court.
Bailey says IMPD currently has a few dozen plate readers and about 100 cameras around the city. IMPD Major Matt Thomas says it’ll take a few months to deploy the new ones, as consultants work with police to study data on high-crime areas and decide which locations can have the greatest impact.
The department will also begin a pilot project with a gunshot detector, which alerts police when there’s gunfire. Bailey estimates more than half of all gunfire isn’t even reported to police. But the detector will be limited to a few square miles at first. Bailey says police need to assess whether the benefits outweigh the potential for officers to be so bombarded with gunshot reports that they don’t have time for anything else.