The St. Charles County Police Department is regularly expanding its capability to protect the community and combat crime with the addition of new technology. At the forefront of the County’s technological upgrades are a cooperative, multi-agency drone unit and the County’s upcoming installation of license plate reader cameras on public roadways.
“Technology won’t ever replace the hard work and dedication of our police officers, but these new tools help us operate more effectively, efficiently, and safely, all of which benefits community safety,” says Police Chief Kurt Frisz. He describes the county’s drone unit, a collaboration with St. Charles County Ambulance District, as a force multiplier that expands the capabilities of first responders during emergencies.
“If we need to search for a missing person, locate a fleeing suspect, or survey damage in a natural disaster, a drone can observe a much larger area than a single person, and provides thermal sensors to operate at night. Those tools allow us to more rapidly deploy manpower where it’s needed most,” Frisz explains. Drones also assist on SWAT deployments, he adds, allowing officers to search building interiors for dangerous suspects without putting themselves in harm’s way.
License plate reader (LPR) cameras are another emerging technology helping to combat crime. LPR cameras identify the license number and physical description of passing vehicles, which can help investigators locate vehicles associated with felonies, kidnapping and other crimes. The County is installing LPR cameras at 43 locations along major roadways, after similar cameras installed at County parks proved to be a useful tool.
“When a vehicle is stolen or is associated with a crime, investigators can search the LPR system for where else that vehicle has been or set up automated alerts if an LPR camera spots that vehicle,” Frisz explains. “These systems have helped law enforcement agencies solve serious crimes in the region. Those include a home invasion and assault in O’Fallon, as well as a series of vehicle break-ins in the County parks involving five individuals from Florida.”
The County Police Department previously added to its camera technology in 2021, equipping every police uniform and vehicle with intelligent sensor cameras that automatically activate in a variety of high-stress situations. The cameras send out real-time location information, allowing fellow first responders to quickly locate officers when needed.
In 2022, more than 300 traffic signals, 75 County police vehicles, and 125 firetrucks and ambulances were upgraded with technology to give green lights to emergency vehicles responding to an incident, improving response time and safety at intersections for police and other emergency responders. And earlier this year, the Police Department’s Crime Lab added new DNA analysis software that vastly reduces the time required to process mixed DNA from multiple sources, facilitating quicker identification of criminal suspects.
Beyond just technology, County Police continue to add other new resources. An explosives detection dog, donated by St. Louis City Soccer Club, joined the Police Department in February. She joins a team of K-9 officers that include an electronics detection dog and dogs trained for traditional tracking, narcotics detection and criminal apprehension.
For more information about the St. Charles County Police Department, visit sccmo.org/Police. To stay up to date on Police Department news, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.