Sugar Land looks to add more than 200 cameras around the city

Sugar Land residents may start to see more of these cameras around the city (Kevin Quinn)

July 2, 2012 3:38:32 PM PDT
The city of Sugar Land will soon consider a proposal to add over 200 cameras across the city and a majority of them will be able to scan your license plate as you're coming and going.

Sugar Land is looking at adding the cameras on major roads like Highway 6 or Highway 90A. The idea is to be able to catch criminals before they leave city limits.

Police in Sugar Land already have cameras in some of their units that read license plates and alert officers if a vehicle has been ripped off. They can read hundreds of plates per minute.

They can also notify officers if a certain plate number is seen, if the registered owner has outstanding warrants or if there's other public safety issues related to that plate. Police say that's all they're used for.

The city has eight of these cameras now, mostly in police vehicles, but some stationary. The police chief wants to add 130 more.

"If we can put out addition license plate recognition cameras in the city, it would help us really thwart crime in the area right now," said Sugar Land Police Chief Douglas Brinkley.

The chief says the cameras would be placed on main roads in and out of town, focusing only on traffic.

"They're looking at lanes of travel, lanes of traffic. There's very little or no video being captured of the occupants of the vehicle itself," said Chief Brinkley.

He has asked the city council to consider purchasing those cameras plus 70 regular surveillance cameras like you see in use around commercial shopping centers. Police say some property management companies and homeowners associations already share the video from their systems. Adding these cameras across the city, the chief says, would give them broader coverage, and another tool to fight crime.

"I could see where there's a lot of value there, if it's the only purpose," said resident Bobby Goetzman.

We talked to some who seemed supportive of the idea, but others who fear the cameras could be used to invade their privacy.

"I don't feel comfortable with it. I think it's a waste of money," said resident Brandi Peck.

The chief has asked for council to include funding for the cameras in its upcoming budget. It would cost about $3 million. At this point, it's unclear how that would be funded.

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