RANTOUL, Ill (WCIA) — The Rantoul Police Department wants to expand on what they said has been a helpful tool in solving gun-related crimes.

The department is asking the village for nine new automated license plate readers. They said that since the program launched in June 2021, it has helped them solve multiple crimes which they wouldn’t have had the resources to solve otherwise.

Now the department is asking for more ALPRs to fill in some gaps of the system’s coverage.

Deputy Chief Rodney Sullivan said automated license plate readers are always recording and keep the data for 30 days, helping police look for certain vehicles tied to a crime and find them faster.

“We were the first agency in Champaign County to deploy them,” Smith said. “So a lot of unknowns, but they paid off almost immediately for us.”

They paid $312,500 for 25 ALPR’s, now they want nine more at a cost of just under $10,000 apiece.

Mayor Charles Smith said the technology isn’t only helping Rantoul, but they’ve been able to relay information gathered by the readers to help Champaign and Urbana with investigations. The technology has been a big help, he said, especially solving crimes tied to guns.

Smith said the village needs more cameras to fill in blind spots. The readers also serve as a deterrent, and although there was some resistance at the beginning of the program, he said people now realize the benefits.

“We’re being proactive to protect our citizens and the community,” Smith said. “The citizens are working with us and understanding what we’re trying to do.”

Sullivan said his department has always been on the forefront of adopting new technologies, even being one of the first to wear body-cameras in the state.

“All of the technology that we can find that will benefit us, we’ll take a look and see if it’s something that will work for us,” Sullivan said.

The Village Board will vote to amend the original contract with Flock Safety at its meeting on Tuesday.