Lakeland city leaders explore adding license plate-reading cameras to city streets

Lakeland considering license plate-reading cameras to fight crime

LAKELAND, Tenn. (WMC) - Lakeland city leaders are exploring the idea of adding a crime-fighting tool to its city streets.

Lakeland Mayor Mike Cunningham believes the city isn’t quite ready to take on its own police department. Right now, residents rely on sheriff’s deputies coming from Memphis or Arlington because the city does not have its own substation.

With more than 12,000 people calling Lakeland home and new developments on the horizon from a new high school to the Lake District, Cunningham says investing in public safety is crucial.

“We know we are growing. We know we have to grow to be successful, to support the initiatives that we are wanting to have as an all inclusive city. But with that we have to grow in the right way and in the right way and at the right pace,” he said.

Adding license plate-reading cameras was part of Cunningham’s platform for mayor.

The city is currently looking at the Flock Safety cameras. And while the discussions of a high school have taken center stage since he took office almost a year ago, Cunningham says now is the time to start the camera conversation.

“We have had kind of a little bit of an uptick in our crime in our general vicinity So I think it’s the right thing at the right time,” saidCunningham.

Lakeland leaders’ discussion on these cameras comes at the same time Shelby County Sheriff’s Office rolled out its pilot program testing out 49 license plate readers and safety cameras. Cunningham says at this point they are cautiously moving forward so they don’t spend unneeded tax dollars.

“There’s no sense in duplicating efforts. And like I said, I believe in working in collaboration with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office this way we do it and do it right,” he said.

Initially city leaders talked about spending $40,000 to purchase 40 cameras for intersections like at I-40 and Canada Road. Now, the mayor believes the city may only need 20 cameras in conjunction with the county’s cameras.

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