The 21st Judicial District Drug Task Force in Tennessee used its Vigilant Solutions license plate reader (LPR) system to bring to justice a suspect in a cold case homicide from 2002.
Scott Jones, Agent in Charge, explains, "Here at the 21st Judicial District Drug Task Force, we leverage our LPR systems for interdiction and drug enforcement efforts in the busy corridor along I-40 in Middle Tennessee. While the system has been very effective in helping us take drugs off the street and disrupt trafficking efforts, it can also deliver many other benefits as it did for me last September.
"I was working the Westbound side of I-40, and received an alert on a stolen vehicle – my second in two days. While we make arrests on stolen vehicles and other crimes, the primary goal of our task force in making a traffic stop is to look for vehicles that may be involved in narcotics trafficking. This particular vehicle was an older model pickup truck, and was being driven by an older gentleman. Based on my experience and training in drug interdiction, it was unlikely that this person was involved in trafficking. Had I not received the alert on the stolen vehicle from the LPR system, I would not have paid any attention to this vehicle. It is unlikely that anyone in law enforcement would have given this vehicle a second look.
"I proceeded with the traffic stop, asking the gentleman if he knew the vehicle he was driving had been reported stolen. To my surprise, he responded that he knew it was stolen and that he had stolen it! He stated that he had witnessed the owner park the truck and leave the keys in the vehicle. Upon further questioning and investigation, this gentleman was identified as Lawton McNutt, and he had been recently released from prison for an attempted 1st degree murder. He was in possession of a firearm when taken into custody."
Agent Jones continues, "Mr. McNutt was taken to Hickman County Jail and booked in, at which point his fingerprints were run through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which had recently undergone an update to include some data from cold case files. The system indicated that he was a high probability match on a partial print obtained from a homicide scene in Wilson County in 2002. At this point, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) got involved, and Mr. McNutt has just been formally charged in the 2002 shooting death of 82-year-old James Hill."
Brian Shockley, Vice President of Marketing, comments, "We applaud the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force for being vigilant in their efforts to identify and interdict drug traffickers here in the state as well as using the system to bring this dangerous individual to justice."
Based in Livermore, CA, Vigilant Solutions is a pioneer of innovative intelligence solutions that help law enforcement protect officers, families, and communities. For additional information, visit www.vigilantsolutions.com.