Renton City Council approves funding for new police technologies

Money targets license plate recognition tech as well as a community engagement platform.

The Renton City Council moved to approve $275,000 in funding for new police technology upgrades from the same company that manufactures the body-worn cameras that officers wear.

Approved March 13, the funding will expand two additional technology services offered by Axon Enterprises Inc., the company known for body cameras worn by police officers. The technologies are for Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) and a community engagement platform tool called My90.

Police spokesperson Cyndie Morris said both the Automatic License Plate Recognition and My90 have already been in a trial period with the department for six months.

“These are amendments to our existing contract with Axon, which supports our body-worn camera program,” she said of the new services.

Morris said the advantage in having the ALPR is to assist in recovering stolen vehicles so the department can get them back to their owners sooner, with little to no damage, and to prosecute those who are responsible.

She said during the trial run of the ALPR technology, the department has seen a significant difference, with a reported 45 to 50 percent increase in recovered stolen vehicles since it started being used by patrol.

Morris said ALPR is built to recognize vehicle plates that are entered into the national crime database, which also includes Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts.

“The ability to more quickly locate vehicles involved in these types of incidents is a huge benefit to both our community and those who are in need of emergency services connected to those cases,” Morris said of the technology.

Morris said My90 is a survey platform that is triggered by certain 911 calls. She said the information provided by callers will assist the department in their effort to improve services and maintain their goal of being transparent and holding department personnel to a high professional standard.

“We believe there’s always room for improvement and we value this type of input from those we provide services to,” Morris said of the platform. “It’s a nice ‘check and balance’ to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the community we serve.”

She said the survey is anonymous, takes about 30-45 seconds to complete, and is conducted through text.