abc27 gets first look at York license plate scanners - abc27 WHTM

abc27 gets first look at York license plate scanners

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YORK, Pa. (WHTM) -

York City Police officer Ryan Anderson is on the lookout for wanted vehicles and their drivers, but he hasn't written down a single make or model number.

He no longer has to.

"Wanted or Missing Person!" shouts a voice from inside the car. The computer screen in front of Anderson flashes in red as a screen with a picture of a nearby parked car pops up.

Instead of two eyes, Anderson officer has six.

"As I'm driving by, the system is looking for license plates," he said.

Inside the King Street parking garage, Anderson pointed out a silver box in the trunk of his car, calling it the "brain of the operation." Three ports, each with two cameras, are mounted on the top of his vehicle to collect continuous photos of license plates.

One camera captures photos in infrared, the other in color. The system runs the plate number and reports back data. The information is bounced off of a national and a local warrant list, and an alert is triggered if the vehicle is being sought by law enforcement.

Anderson is quick to say that this is no "Big Brother" operation.

"It doesn't check your name," he said, "It isn't gathering any personal information about you."

Within moments of our test run came the first red flag. Two vehicles listed in active warrants were found before we left the parking garage.

"I'll go run the information and verify that it is a good warrant," Anderson said.

The information is logged into the database, and the officer can decide where to go from there.

During abc27's ride-along, the officer was alerted to active violations about every minute. With Amber Alerts and stolen cars in mind, police said no more vehicles will fall under the radar.

"You may not know you are next to one, but the person inside knows and they are going to assume that you know," Anderson said.

Currently, two patrol cars have been equipped with the scanners. The total cost is around $50,000 for both cars.

Police said the scanners were funded mostly with grant money, and added that the system has already paid for itself.

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