Suffolk Police get $100,000 for new crime-fighting surveillance equipment

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

Suffolk Police Captain Jesse Epperson said technology was another weapon in tackling 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 look at crime trends and heat maps to determine the best places to install the cameras.

“We strongly believe this will be a successful program to push crime in the right direction,” Epperson said.

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

“It’s something we’ve seen in neighboring jurisdictions; it’s something we’ve seen in private HOAs and communities that have used this equipment – the license plate reader equipment – which we know it has the propensity to be very effective, and police departments across the country are starting to move in that direction,” Epperson said.

Police said cameras and gunshot detection technology are two different things but will serve the same crime-fighting purpose. We are told that the cameras will be useful in locating stolen vehicles and assisting in missing person cases.

“What this license plate reader does, it goes into this database and it reads the license plate through its own technology and tells you if that plate has some type of alert and then it returns a notification to the department,” Epperson said.

Epperson said as far as gunshot detection goes, it would give them the ability to react to a shooting scene before someone calls 911.

Mayor of Suffolk Mike Duman said: “I think this will be a good tool for our law enforcement officers. Everyone is struggling with recruiting and staffing, and that’s another way to keep your eyes on the bad guys.”

Duman said that while crime rates are not dramatically high – with 0 homicides as of Feb. 7 – the goal is still to continue to reduce gun violence trends in the region.

Suffolk Police have no specific timetable for when the technology will be operational. Funding has just been approved and equipment needs to be ordered. However, police told News 3 they hope to have him by the end of this year.

Related: ‘There’s a flood of guns in the wrong hands,’ Suffolk police chief tells Stop the Violence forum

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