St. Louis surveillance camera network leads to over 200 arrests

ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - A St. Louis city police officer shot at a suspect Wednesday morning after the officer was nearly hit by a stolen car. New technology is helping police fight crime. That includes a network of public and private surveillance cameras like the one on Olive street near 20th. License plate readers are helping police both fight and prevent crime.

Detectives say the incident unfolded about 9am Wednesday in downtown St. Louis at Tucker and Locust. Chief Sam Dotson says technology on a downtown camera hit on the license plate of a Pontiac stolen in St. Louis County.

"This is an investment we have made in our real time crime center. There is a system that reads plates. This car was in that database. Officers got an alert and they responded," said Chief Sam Dotson.

As officers responded, a suspect got into the stolen car and tried to speed off. We are told the stolen car hit the passenger side of a police cruiser as an officer was trying to get out to arrest the suspect.

Dotson says the officer fired one shot that went through the passenger side window of the police cruiser. The stolen car sped off starting a police pursuit that ended in north city when police lost the Pontiac. It was later found abandoned in an alley.

No officers were hurt, and police don't think they shot the suspect. At this point, police don't have a detailed description of who they're looking for.

Downtown STL says they have about 1,700 security cameras. Most of them are privately owned. There are 16 license plate recognition cameras.

"They look right a license plate. The plate is hit up against a database, a national database of cars that were either stolen, or involved in a felony," said Downtown STL President and CEO Missy Kelley.

Since the inception of the program, two years ago, police have had 91 stolen vehicles recovered, 21 illegal firearms recovered and 215 arrests. There have been 591 charges from those arrests. For each one of those arrests the person has committed multiple crimes.