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Norwalk police receive approval for six automatic license plate readers

People talk at a zoom meeting
Norwalk Chief of Police James Walsh presents to the Public Safety and General Government Committee.

The Common Council unanimously approved acceptance of an $18,000 federal grant from the Department of Justice on Tuesday that would allow the Norwalk Police Department to purchase and install six automatic license plate readers (ALPRs). .

“These ALPRs will be installed around the City of Norwalk to include areas that have been identified where crimes, car burglaries, and stolen motor vehicles have occurred,” Deputy Chief Melissa Lepore wrote in a memo to the council. “ALPRs can produce alerts for missing persons, silver alerts, and amber alerts. They help in the deterrent and detection of car burglaries, vehicles used in other crimes, and generate investigative leads.”

Police Chief James Walsh told the Public Safety and General Government Committee of the Common Council in May that the readers are similar to the ones already in use throughout the city by LAZ, the company that manages city parking.

“This specific license plate reader—ALPR—it’s a system being widely used in municipalities in Connecticut and all throughout the United States,” Walsh said.

He said the plate readers would help the police identify stolen cars, generate silver and amber alerts, and identify people who have an outstanding arrest warrant. The cameras would be placed in strategic locations where the city has seen an increase in crime.

“In the past two years, we’ve had a significant issue, for example in Rowayton, with stolen cars traveling into Rowayton to do car burglaries and to steal other cars just for the joy of the theft, mostly unlocked cars,” Walsh said. “But if we had these tools, we’d be able to strategically place these things in avenues and arteries known to us where these vehicles come off the highway and travel into these areas where these crimes are occurring and we’ll be notified that they’re traveling in there.”

Walsh said the devices also read the makes and models of cars, as well as partial license plates, which would help with identifying cars involved with crashes.

“If we have a hit and run, we can search white Honda SUV and we can go through and cull out possible suspects,” he said.

Walsh said Darien currently has 12 license plate readers, and Lepore noted in her memo that other communities in Connecticut are also starting to use them, including Fairfield, Ridgefield, Danbury, New Canaan, and Newtown.“They help in the deterrent and detection of car burglaries, vehicles used in other crimes, and generate investigative leads,” Lepore wrote in the memo. “The interface allows valuable information to be developed and shared with partner agencies that is beneficial to investigating, combating, but also preventing future violence.”

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