Candid Camera 

Police cameras read license plates and monitor apartment complexes.

With a record of 38 offenses, including robbery and meth manufacturing, Irby Kimble is what police refer to as a repeat offender. And last weekend, due to new technology at the Memphis Police Department, Kimble was arrested again.

A camera mounted to the top of a police cruiser — one of the MPD's new Automated License Plate Readers — detected Kimble's license plate as one tied to outstanding warrants.

The camera, linked to a computer in the car, alerted officers, and Kimble was pulled over and arrested on a Germantown warrant for forgery and identity theft.

"These cameras are designed to detect not only warrants but sex offenders, people driving on revoked or suspended licenses, possible gangsters. It even tells police if someone has been arrested or convicted of a felony," said John Harvey, the technical consultant for the Memphis Police Real Time Crime Center.

Harvey wrote the software for the new license-plate-reading program, and though only two Memphis police cars currently have cameras, he says the department plans to purchase an additional 65 cameras by year's end.

"These cameras can read license numbers that are straight ahead of them, or they can read at 45- and 90-degree angles," Harvey said. "The best way is to sit on the side of the road and catch cars as they go by. They can even catch three lanes of traffic at once."

Police-car computers make different alarm sounds for each offense. For example, a siren sounds when someone with a warrantpasses. A "boing-boing" sound indicates a registered sex offender.

The cameras are also being used at one local apartment complex: Autumn Ridge Apartments in Hickory Hill. LEDIC Management Group, which manages several local properties, installed surveillance cameras with license-plate readers six weeks ago.

"The MPD can view the camera footage [or license-plate information] anytime at the Real Time Crime Center," said Pierce Ledbetter, CEO for LEDIC. "If a police cruiser is en route to a disturbance call, they can link in to the cameras. The plates from all cars entering properties are viewed, read, and traced for bad activities."

Ledbetter said most residents are pleased with the new technology because it makes them feel safer. A few residents felt their privacy was being invaded.

"Only the troublemakers were concerned. We had three units turn in their notices to vacate," Ledbetter said. "Those three had been a constant source of complaint from other residents."

So far, the new cameras have been useful in catching people stealing paint from the complex's maintenance closets. Ledbetter hopes to have real-time cameras at other LEDIC properties by the end of the year.

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