Preventing Crime Using License Plates

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — “A lot of times when we stop cars, we aren’t sure what we are getting into,” says Deputy Thomas Todd, West Columbia Police Department. But officers like Deputy Todd are getting some help with that, through a license plate recognition system or LPR for short. “Everytime it picks up a tag, it scans the tag, reads the tag and identifies it and stores it in the computer system in the car,” says Deputy Todd All in public parking lots throughout the city. “I pretty much go down each aisle of the parking lot and pick up and scan as many tags as I can,” says Deputy Todd. “We get suspended tags with this system, we get suspended drivers license with this system,” says Scott Morrison, Public Information Officer for the West Columbia Police Department. Morrison says the LPR goes further than vehicle violations. “We’ve confiscated guns because of stopping cars because of suspended tags and things like that,” says Morrison. They’ve also helped solve crimes. “We’ve had armed robberies where we get a tag on a vehicle, or color of the vehicle or make of a vehicle and we can pull that up in the system and it has shown us that vehicle in the city at some point that day,” says Morrison. The department has been using the LPR’s for two years now and Deputy Todd says they are worth it. “When you are looking at people’s safety, you can’t really put down an amount on that,” says Deputy Todd. Crandall Sims reporting, “The West Columbia Police Department currently has 12 patrol cars with the devices on them. We are told they were paid for through a federal grant with a price tag of $30,000 each.”

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