Three Hendersonville parks were recently equipped with License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras, and Parks Director Andy Gilley says they are already helping local crime-fighting efforts.
Gilley, who was named parks director in August of 2018, said one of his biggest goals since taking the position has been to explore different safety measures that can be implemented in the parks.
“I don’t think we have a major crime problem in the parks, but I wanted to be proactive,” he said.
The parks director requested as part of his 2019-20 fiscal year budget five LPR cameras that have been installed in Memorial, Drake’s Creek and Veterans parks.
The cameras cost around $15,000 each plus electrical work and were installed in December.
Gilley says the cameras have already helped authorities identify some suspects accused of vandalism in one of the parks.
The cameras capture license plate numbers and compare them with information in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.
Hendersonville police have two LPR cameras – one in the Main Street/Center Point Road area and another along Indian Lake Boulevard – and are looking to add more.
The department has credited several arrests to the use of the cameras that have alerted them immediately when a stolen vehicle has entered the area.
“We see the benefits from this technology every day,” HPD Det. Sgt. Neal Harris told the Hendersonville Standard in September following arrests in two separate cases in which stolen vehicles were recovered with the use of the cameras.
Car break-ins or “smash and grabs” are not common in Hendersonville parks, but they do happen, Gilley noted.
Four vehicles were broken into in Veterans Park in October in a crime spree that involved a crime ring based in Florida.
“If we had the cameras up, we may or may not have caught them right away,” said Gilley. “But we are trying to keep the parks as safe as possible.”