Coal City getting license plate reader cameras

Grant will provide funds for mobile, stationary cameras

File photo THE COAL CITY Police Department has received a grant to acquire license plate reader cameras including six that will be installed on department squad cars.

Ann Gill

License plate reader cameras are the next level in policing and in the coming months the Coal City Police Department will soon have a new crime fighting tool. A $44,552 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice—Bureau of Justice Assistance will add license plate reader cameras to village squad cars, as well as a stationary unit. Sgt. Tom Logan, who secured the grant, said the department will install Vigilant cameras, a product of Motorola Solutions. The grant will allow for six mobile cameras to be purchased and installed on two of the department’s squad cars—three cameras on each car. Logan explained that the mobile cameras are consistently on when the vehicle is in use and gives an alert if something is detected. The cameras have been used across the country to solve crimes, locate missing persons and property, and track down fugitives. “We have seen increases in the past years of people stealing things. We had a stolen camper recently, stolen motor vehicle recently and this is going to assist our investigators in tracking these things and finding them. It’s an asset to our community and will keep us safer,” Logan said. Several neighboring departments are adding this new technology, many choosing to go Flock cameras. “We chose to go through Motorola instead of Flock and the reason being we did get a grant and the licensing with Motorola is less expensive annually,” Logan said. The annual licensing through Motorola will cost the village just under $8,000 a year compared to the $17,500 quoted by Flock. Logan said any additional cameras acquired by the village would have a decreased licensing fee. The initial purchase also comes with a five year warranty on the equipment. “The utilization of license plate recognition cameras has been an asset to investigations and it’s a great tool the road officers will utilize every day,” Logan said. The single stationary camera will be installed at a yet to be determined location. Logan is now working with the National White Collar Crime Center [NWC3] on finalizing the grant and acquiring the equipment. Meade Electric will be used to install the stationary camera and Camz Communications out of Channahon will be installing the mobile cameras. Logan expects the cameras to be in service early in the new year. It was through the department’s membership in the Grundy County Law Enforcement Managers Association that Logan was made aware of the grant. “We’re very thankful to have received the grant and we look forward to utilizing the equipment. The officers will have one more tool in their arsenal,” Logan said.