Suffolk Police Department gets $100,000 for new surveillance equipment to combat crime

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Posted at 5:55 PM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 22:14:30-05

SUFFOLK, Va. — Another Hampton Roads city has voted to arm itself with new technology to fight crime. In the coming months, Suffolk will be rolling out a network of surveillance cameras and a gunshot detection system.

Suffolk Police Captain Jesse Epperson said technology is another weapon to battle gun violence and crime. The department will receive $100,000 to install 27 cameras to scan license plates and implement gunshot detection technology to maximize coverage areas.

The department will review crime trends and heat maps to determine the best places to set up the cameras.

"We believe very much that this will be a successful program into pushing crime in the right direction," said Epperson.

Suffolk City Council unanimously approved spending for gunshot detection technology and cameras in their meeting last week. Epperson said this technology will be the first of its kind in the department.

"This is something that we have seen in neighboring jurisdictions; this is something that we've seen in private HOAs and communities that have utilized this equipment - license plate reader equipment - that we know that has the propensity to be highly effective, and police departments across the nation are starting to move in this direction," said Epperson.

Police said the cameras and gunshot detection technology are two different things but will serve the same purpose when it comes to combating crime. We’re told the cameras will be useful in finding stolen vehicles and in helping with missing persons cases.

"What this license plate reader does, it goes to that database and it reads the license plate through their own technology and tells you if that plate has some type of alert, and it then sends a notification back to the department," said Epperson.

Epperson said when it comes to gunshot detection, it would give them the potential to respond to a shooting scene before someone calls 911.

Suffolk Mayor Mike Duman said, "I think it's going to be a good tool for our law enforcement officers. Everyone is having a problem recruiting and fully staffing, and this is another means to have eyes out kind of looking for the bad guys."

Duman said although crime rates are not drastically high - with 0 homicides as of February 7 - the goal is still to continue to decrease trends of gun violence in the area.

Suffolk Police don’t have a firm timetable on when the technology will be up and running. The funding was just approved and equipment needs to be ordered. However, police tell News 3 they're hoping to have it by the end of this year.

Related: 'There are a flood of guns in the wrong hands,' Suffolk Police chief says at Stop the Violence forum