JOHNSONVILLE, S.C. – With the addition of a third automated license plate recognition system, the Johnsonville Police Department now operates license plate readers on all three of the department’s police vehicles.
The automated license plate recognition systems capture a picture of vehicle license plates as they pass patrol vehicles and instantly alert officers if the tag is associated with a wanted/missing person, amber alert, stolen vehicle, sex offender, gang member or an uninsured vehicle, according to Johnsonville Police Chief Ron Douglas.
“The department checks over a thousand license tags each day and has had tremendous success with this technology since first installed six years ago,” Douglas said. “We have recovered several stolen vehicles and arrested numerous wanted persons, including a child sexual assault suspect from a neighboring county as he was driving through Johnsonville.”
The vehicle and tag photos that are captured are uploaded at the end of each shift to a server at the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in Columbia and may be accessed by participating police agencies for investigative purposes, Douglas said.
The systems cost approximately $15,000 each. The Johnsonville Police Department purchased them using annual fundraising money donated by local people and businesses. No money was required from the city’s budgeted taxpayer funds, Douglas said.
Johnsonville officers were able to check more than 5,000 license tags in a 12-hour period during a recent traffic safety detail. Nearly $5,000 in traffic citations were issued. Most citations were for suspended driver’s licenses, suspended and expired license tags and operating uninsured vehicles.
“We have also used these systems to inform otherwise law abiding citizens that their tags and driver’s licenses have been suspended due to reporting errors between insurance companies at SCDMV,” Douglas said. “Otherwise, they would have been subject to arrest and having their vehicles towed if they had been detected in other jurisdictions before getting the errors corrected.”
Douglas said the systems are by far the most impressive technology he’s seen in his more than 30-year career.
“This is one of the many tools that our citizens provide for our officers that makes them much more effective and keeps them safe,” he said.