FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Fayetteville police installed dozens of license plate reader cameras at strategic locations in November.

The LPR cameras work by scanning license plates and vehicles that then run them through a database. After that, an alert is sent to patrol officers if it’s a vehicle they have been looking for.  

“(They have been doing) Excellent work. You know it definitely has produced recovery of stolen vehicles, missing people, even homicide suspects,” Major Robert Ramirez with the Fayetteville Police Department said. You know a lot of good information in real-time.”

Since the inception of the LPR cameras in Nov. 2021, the Fayetteville Police Department has achieved numerous successes for arrests related to homicides, robberies and thefts utilizing the equipment. The following is a breakdown of the department’s successes thus far: 

  • Conducted 72 felony arrests; 
  • Conducted 47 misdemeanor arrests; 
  • Recovered 32 stolen motor vehicles;
  • Seized 3 firearms (1 of which was stolen); 
  • Recovered 6 stolen license plates; 
  • Arrested 1 subject that was fleeing to elude;
  • Generated 23 investigative leads for ongoing cases. 

Fayetteville said it plans to install more of these cameras across the city later this fall.

“It’s definitely a force multiplier because it puts eyes where we don’t have the actual officers at,” Major Ramirez said.

But, this equipment is expensive.

The cost for just two cameras and the system is around $30,000.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has laid out five principles law enforcement agencies should adhere to when it comes to license plate trackers.

  • They must only be used by law enforcement agencies to investigate hits and in other ways in which they believe plate data is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation;
  • The government must not store data about innocent people for any lengthy period. They say unless plate data has been flagged, data should be stored for nothing longer than days or weeks;
  • The public should be able to find out if their plate data is contained in a law enforcement agency’s database;
  • Law enforcement agencies should not share license plate reader data with third parties that don’t follow these listed principles and they should be transparent with who they are sharing data with; 
  • Any entity that uses license plate readers should be required to report its usage publicly on an annual basis at the very least.