IPD installing license plate readers in mall area

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net
The Examiner

Independence Police will install license plate readers in the retail district along 39th Street, which includes Independence Center. 

The readers are part of an effort to curb crime and disturbances in that area after a series of incidents late 2020 into 2021, including an injury shooting inside the mall and another shooting in the mall parking lot. 

The Independence Police Foundation, a non-profit group started last year and led by former IPD chief Gary George, is funding the project. The Independence Civic Council this week approved a $2,500 grant to support the Foundation.  

Mall management has been working on upgrading its security camera system in the mall and said it would be working with IPD to install a license plate reader as part of that effort.  

George said police initially plan to install five plate readers around mall entrances from 39th Street, and hopefully four more in future. The camera readers, which cost about $4,000 apiece, capture information and can notify police in real time about license plates on their investigative radar. The cameras will have the ability to operate in capacity with neighboring cities and law enforcement agencies. 

“That’s not a threat to anybody’s license plate unless you have a warrant or are considered a suspicious person,” George said. “We’ve got to ensure to people that it’s safe there; it’s to alleviate crime, but also to alleviate the fear of crime. 

The readers also can help police to narrow down time frames with investigations. If need be, in the future the readers can be moved to other areas of the city. They’re mounted on existing utility poles and tap into the city’s existing fiberoptic network. 

“It’s a marvelous, marvelous tool,” George said. 

The Independence Chamber of Commerce created the Civic Council in 2015 to support initiatives designed to improve the climate of business and quality of life in the city.  

The Independence Police Foundation was created last year to help fund programs, equipment and training not covered by city revenue sources, and also to support officers and employees in emergency circumstances.