CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – Parkland College’s police department is joining several nearby agencies using special technology to solve crime. They’ve installed five automated license plate readers around campus. Champaign, Rantoul and Springfield police departments are just a few others who have the devices.

“Parkland’s campus is an extremely safe campus to be at and we want to keep it that way,” Chief Troy Daniels said.

Automated license plate readers can record vehicle descriptions and plates and immediately notify departments if the information matches a suspect already involved in a crime, a missing person or stolen car.

“I think safety is taken pretty seriously here and yes, I do feel really safe on campus,” student Amaya King said.

But about a year ago, the board of trustees wanted to take public safety even further.

“It’s not intrusive, it doesn’t bother people. They don’t even know that it’s happening,” Daniels said.

He says their new license plate readers are affordable but provide a valuable service.

“The technology is functioning really, really well,” Daniels said.

Five of them are now up and running around campus. The company, Flock Safety, claims its devices reduce crime by up to 70% and are used by more than 2,000 law enforcement agencies. But – they don’t record traffic violations, speeding, expired tags, faces or stop sign violations.

“If there’s a plate that is registered as someone who is wanted, or a stolen vehicle, or some other kind of hot note that makes them a threat to the campus, we get automatically notified by email and/or text,” Daniels said.

The information can then be shared between departments.

“For example, the gentleman that was a suspect in committing criminal damage to the courthouse and also the Champaign Police Department. We were able to put that plate in our systems so that if he happened to come on our campus, we’d be notified automatically,” Daniels said.

He says a handful of staff members have reached out saying they’re grateful for the added layer of security.

“I know certain officers by name – you see them that often. On campus I’ve never felt unsafe or anything like that,” admissions advisor Sarah Winker said.

The University of Illinois recently came up on one year since its own police department began using automated license plate readers. They’ve installed five and plan to add five more soon. They say the devices have helped solve several cases including a hit and run, a stolen vehicle and gun, a road rage incident and more.