In its first two months since becoming fully operational, Mt. Juliet Police Department’s Guardian Shield program has exceeded expectations.

Guardian Shield, a program in which police utilize automated license plate readers planted all over the city to monitor traffic for hot-listed vehicles, has already been used to identify suspect vehicles in over 30 cases of vehicle burglary and vehicle theft. Police applaud the fact that the information gleaned from the program is complete enough for them to identify suspects, charge them, and close cases.

Much of the program’s operational time thus far has coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since April, Guardian Shield has led to the closure of at least 15 different cases. Many of these cases were closed by arrests that were made during the quarantine in fact, and the cases aren’t limited to stolen vehicles and vehicle break-ins but also include missing persons and suspects connected to other felonies.

In April alone, the program led police to track down seven stolen cars. While four of them were reported stolen in the Greater Nashville area, one was reported in Kansas City, Missouri, another from Marana, Arizona and a third from Somerset, Kentucky.

MJPD Capt. Tyler Chandler said Guardian Shield, in conjunction with investigative work, “has been extremely successful in the months that it has been fully operational, and we are happy with it. The success of the program is apparent in the amount of discoveries and crimes solved because of it, which has led to justice and restitution for many, many victims.”

Detectives at MJPD have been able to investigate the copious data that the program collects throughout the city to uncover a trailer theft ring. This involved thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen property across several jurisdictions. Police were able to charge numerous suspects in the criminal operation as ALPRs helped them identify the suspects involved.

“We’ve also charged numerous theft and fraud suspects,” Chandler said, “and the system helped us identify those suspects.”

Guardian Shield drew local law enforcement’s attention to a vehicle that had been hot-listed in Clarksville in connection with a missing 16-year-old who reportedly ran away from home. The teen had been reported missing as of March 12. Police found the vehicle on April 9, nearly a month later, at Providence Mall and recovered the teenager.

A suspect wanted for felony aggravated robbery was caught when he parked his car at a home near Hobson Pike. The suspect was from Antioch, but he’d come to Mt. Juliet from the Clarksville area where he’d committed the crime while armed, and a warrant was filed there.

The program also led local police to assist Tennessee Highway Patrol in apprehending a murder suspect from Louisiana at a Mt. Juliet hotel. Highway Patrol had alerted law enforcement statewide to be on the lookout for the suspect upon discovering that he was in the state. MJPD managed to find him in town by first querying the Guardian Shield program for the suspect’s vehicle.

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