AUSTIN (KXAN) The Austin Police Department is getting closer to the return of automated license plate readers. The department will host two community input sessions on the use of the readers soon.

Back in September, Austin City Council voted to reinstate the license plate reader program.

According to APD, these high-tech cameras helped detectives crack dozens of violent crime cases between 2016 and 2020.

License plate readers, or LPRs, collect pictures of license plates, which are than stored on a massive database that includes the make, model and color of cars.

These cameras were mounted on street poles, highway overpasses and police patrol cars.

The police department already owns 15 LPR devices from its prior use. However, APD must work with the Office of Police Oversight to draft a finalized policy for the program.

A public meeting planned for Monday at the Turner Roberts Recreation Center has been rescheduled due to potential icy roads in Central Texas. The meeting will be rescheduled for a later time. The virtual meeting on Feb. 7 remains on the schedule.

At those meetings, police officers will explain how LPR’s work while sharing past success stories.

As APD struggles with staffing shortages, assistant chief Jeff Greenwalt believes that these cameras will provide a very valuable tool to keep our city safe.

“This technology is going to solve crimes quicker,” he said. “You’re preventing additional crime from happening, you’re preventing people from being victims and you’re preventing more cases from hitting our detective’s desk.”

Greenwalt is confident that they’ll have these cameras set in place this summer.

Once the LPR’s go online, it’ll kickstart a 12-month pilot program.

After that, APD must report back to Austin City Council to show how helpful the cameras were with cracking crimes.