Merced Police hope new license plate readers will help catch violent criminals

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Police say the camera will capture plate numbers which will then be run through a database to determine with the car is stolen or involved in a violent crime. (KFSN)

Technology that quickly scans license plates is aiming to help Merced Police catch criminals. Drivers coming through parts of town will see some new cameras as they pass some intersections.

"I know we're going to have success stories from this," Capt. Matt Williams with the Department said.

The cameras are license plate readers. Williams says they were installed a few weeks ago. He says the camera will capture plate numbers which will then be run through a database to determine with the car is stolen or involved in a violent crime.

If there's a hit, officers are notified almost instantly.

"Ten to 15 seconds, an officer would get a notification on his computer in his car that a stolen auto has driven through this such and such location," he explained.

Williams says the eight cameras and the system itself cost about $100,000. Mayor pro tem Kevin Blake says the cameras were approved unanimously by the council last year.

"I think it just goes a long way for public safety and utilizing the most current technology out there to effectively combat some of the crime taking place in our neighborhood," he said.

Police say the cameras aren't live yet. While they are currently collecting data, the department is still working on putting together a policy before the system is fully up and running.

They also say the cameras are solely for fighting crime.

"We don't release personal info from people, and it does not take picture of the driver," Williams said.

Officers say the cameras are on intersections, but they hope to mount some cameras onto their police units in the future.

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