If you imagine a small town out of a storybook, Salina City, Utah, should come to mind. Nestled in South Center, Utah, Salina consists of around 2,500 residents that call it home. Salina City is located right off of the major highway I-70 and is a good distance away from other major towns, making it a common stop for travelers. Because of this, Salina City sees many out-of-state visitors daily, making policing this area a challenge. Chief Taylor of Salina City PD, explains that the crime rate per capita can be high because of its location right off of I-70.
Due to Salina City’s location, human trafficking is a common safety challenge in this community. Chief Taylor knew that Salina City PD needed some back-up in order to fight human trafficking and to keep the residents and visitors of Salina City as secure as possible. This back-up came in the form of Motorola Solutions license plate recognition (LPR) cameras. Chief Taylor describes that “one of the main driving forces behind implementing LPR cameras was the kidnapping and endangered people cases.” With human trafficking becoming a prevalent and dangerous problem, Chief Taylor knew the old way of doing investigations would not create leads and results as quickly and efficiently as they needed. Chief Taylor stated that before the implementation of LPR technology “all we could do was go to our local businesses and ask for video surveillance footage and look for that. Trying to narrow down the vehicles, leads, direction of travel, and that whole thing, it was a difficult process.”
Chief Taylor has unfortunately dealt with many cases regarding human trafficking. He explained a heart-wrenching story about a woman who was kidnapped last year out of Denver, Colorado. “The suspect was violent and did serious damage to the women’s health. The suspect had physically abused the woman all the way from Denver, Colorado to here. She ended up having bilateral punctured lungs and was struggling to live, but we were able to rescue her. This is one of the incidents that prompted me to install LPR cameras.” Chief Taylor says that “one of my biggest fears is one of our own children being snatched out of this town and not being able to develop any leads to help rescue them. Now, our LPR cameras have helped us identify vehicles that come in or out of our town.”
The implementation of the LPR cameras in Salina City does not follow the normal trajectory. Something that makes Salina special is how the community looks out for each other. Salina City has a special relationship with a non-profit organization named Operation Underground Railroad. This organization helps rescue children from sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. Operation Underground Railroad realized that Salina City struggles with a high-volume of these issues and assisted the city in acquiring some LPR cameras to help combat these issues. Not only has Salina City seen kindness from organizations like Operation Railroad, some of their own community members have pitched in to maintain the LPR system up and running. Chief Taylor states “Our citizens feel like it’s extremely important to help families and help people. And, you know, that’s what we do here in this little town. People in this town are awesome.”
Since the installation of LPR cameras in Salina City, we’ve been able to solve cases more rapidly, in order to help promote community safety. For example, Chief Taylor stated “Not too long ago, there were two girls kidnapped out of Aurora, Colorado. They were being taken to California for human trafficking. We share our LPR data with another law enforcement agency there, and they put a hot plate into the LPR system. Our Utah Highway Patrol got the alert as well and were able to catch the vehicle and rescue those two little girls.” There is another case that Chief Taylor describes where there was “a young lady taken from a school about 35 miles east of here. The first people they came looking for to help with the case was us because of our LPR cameras. We were able to use LPR cameras to identify the direction the suspect traveled and this ultimately helped lead to the rescue of the young lady. I don’t think she would have made it if we didn’t get to her when we did.”
LPR technology has provided invaluable assistance to Salina City in their crime-solving efforts. Chief Taylor says “I can’t tell you how much this has helped us, just the force multiplication aone is the little bit of help that we need.” Although technology itself is helpful, seeing how the community of Salina City works together with their law enforcement agency and in tandem with the technology to bring justice and safety to the community is a powerful thing.