Branson police chief says license plate reading cameras already stopping criminals

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 3:42 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2023 at 4:16 PM CST
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - The Branson Police Department introduced license plate readers a month ago, and they’re already paying off.

The department currently has eight of them, and are using the cameras in busy areas or places with high crime rates.

Branson Police Chief Eric Schmitt said in the few weeks they have had them, they have arrested 10 people already. Chief Schmitt said the flock cameras are already preventing crime.

“It was kind of eye-opening for the officers just to see how in the first couple of weeks of operation, how frequently we did have those stolen cars and those wanted people coming into town,” said Chief Schmitt.

The cameras don’t take pictures of the driver, just the license plates and car.

“That camera will trip and send an instant alert to our officers,” said Chief Schmitt. “The information that will result in that trip is anything that’s a wanted vehicle, a stolen vehicle, a vehicle of interest for a crime.”

Chief Schmitt said dispatchers and officers put the plate information into their system, keeping the tourist town safe. This isn’t just in town or across Missouri but nationwide.

“Instead of waiting for them to victimize our people in town, we’re getting them before they commit the crimes,” said Chief Schmitt.

He said several stolen cars have already been recovered thanks to the cameras. More Branson-area businesses are getting on board to help curb crime too.

“We get them in the original stolen car before they’ve had time to set up here and break into things, steal other cars, things along those lines,” said Chief Schmitt. “That’s a win for the community.”

He said it could even help your neighborhood.

“There are several neighborhoods where there’s just limited entry in and having those up, the research shows that 70% of crimes are committed with vehicles,” said Chief Schmitt.

Chief Schmitt said the cameras give confidence in officers, that what they do works.

“That’s why everybody became a police officer in the first place,” said Chief Schmitt. “If we can prevent the crime from happening, and drive our crime stats down, that’s a huge win for us. It’s not just good for the economy, it really makes the officers feel good about what they’re doing.”

Chief Schmitt wants to be clear, these aren’t traffic cameras, and don’t measure a driver’s speed.

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