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License plate readers going up in some Houston neighborhoods to combat crime

In response to the surge in crime, more than 100 cameras are being added in some areas of southwest and west Houston.

HOUSTON — Dozens of license plate readers will soon be added to some Houston neighborhoods in response to the uptick in crime. 

Several members of the Houston Police Department Command Staff joined City Council Member Edward Pollard for the announcement Thursday. 

Pollard said he and local management districts have budgeted enough money for more than 100 Flock License Plate Readers in District J. It includes Westheimer near the Galleria area past Wilcrest and south to Bellfort.

Pollard said the cameras use license plate recognition technology to help law enforcement solve crimes. They will record 24/7.

"We want to send a strong message that if you commit crimes and you ride through our district, we will see you and we will catch you," Pollard said.

Even with fake paper plates, the councilman said the cameras can provide a vehicle description so that police can check to see if it's been reported stolen. 

He said the cameras will be used only for still photographs to identify a vehicle's description and license plate. They're not capable of video recording or live streaming, according to Pollard. 

He believes the cameras will help deter criminals.

HPD said license plate readers in other areas of Houston have helped provide leads in the past and have helped locate missing people.

"We were able to solve homicides, agg robberies, missing individuals," Assistant HPD Chief Yasar Bashir said. 

On its website, Flock said its cameras have helped reduce crime by as much as 70 percent in 1,500 cities nationwide since 2017. It claims more than $10 million in stolen property has been recovered with leads produced by its license plate readers.

Pollard said he's also allocated more funding for HPD's Differential Response Team (DRT). 

“We want to send a strong message to criminals that all eyes are on you,” said Council Member Pollard. “We are going to use every resource at our disposal to make sure residents and visitors to our great city feel safe and can work, live and play without threat to their property or their lives.”

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