Katy police deploys 22 license plate reading cameras

Katy police are arming their city with artificial intelligence this year—new technology aimed at solving crimes much more quickly.

Police are in the process of implementing a circuit of cameras, connected to a computer system that will create a detailed database of every car that passes by.

The first camera is already up in the vicinity of Katy Mills Mall.

“We’ve had thefts and stuff in the company,” said Blake Hill, a Katy area delivery driver whose company has been victimized by auto thieves. “I just don’t like it, so get the bad guys.”

He has first-hand knowledge of how difficult it can be retrieving a stolen car.

“It can be quite a task,” said Hill. “You have no way to identify it.”

But it’ll get easier in 2020. Katy police say 22 automated license plate reader cameras connected to artificial intelligence will go up around the city in the next five to six weeks.

“It allows us to search by make, model and color,” said Detective Jerod Stewart with Katy Police Dept. “It’ll allow us to search by the actual license plate—the in-state or out-of-state license plate.... The information is recorded by the cameras all the time.”

“Let’s do pickup trucks, and we can do Ford, and we can do white,” said Stewart demonstrating a refined search on the database. “It’s gonna go through Ford trucks that are white that have Texas license plates.”

Katy police aren’t disclosing the exact location of the first camera they installed a few months ago. They say it has already aided in criminal investigations, helping catch suspects on the run.

The technology is more than just a search database.

“If that vehicle comes to revisit our city on another date after it may have already committed a crime here, and we entered that information, it will alert dispatch, and we can push that information out to patrol officers,” said Stewart

“I think that we need to trust the police and let them do what they gotta do, and if you’re not a bad guy or you’re not doing anything you shouldn’t be doing, you don’t really have anything to worry about,” said Hill.

Katy city council approved funding the new cameras in late January instead of hiring an additional police officer.