New police camera 'scans' license plates

POSTED: 6:11 PM Aug 22 2013   UPDATED: 8:00 PM Aug 22 2013
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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. -

There's new technology deputies are using in Washington County, Virginia.

It's a camera mounted on the trunk of a patrol car that scans license plates in only a matter of seconds.

It's referred to as a License Plate Recognition System. The equipment takes a photographic image of a tag and runs it through the car's computer, which then runs it through a database.

That program checks for stolen cars, stolen tags and other offenses.

The new system frees up dispatchers for other calls and allows the deputy to do other things while the computer scans away.

"It dispatches all that information within a fraction of a second, as opposed to having to process that information through an officer's mind," says Deputy Erik Hinchey.

Around the Tri-Cities area, the only other agencies we found with the technology are Tennessee Highway Patrol and Virginia State Police.

Sheriff Fred Newman tells us the equipment cost $17,000 and came from a grant through Homeland Security.