RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — From tracking speeds to reading license plates, there are more eyes on our cars than ever before.
Now a device that does both is coming to the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s a great tool we can utilize to try to keep the community safer as we’re enforcing speed laws and tracking speeders throughout the community,” Rowe said.
The Wake County Sheriff’s Office will purchase a speed trailer that also has an automatic license plate reader. It monitors speed and collects data, but cannot issue automatic tickets.
CBS 17 asked Rowe why they’re combining reading and registering license plates with something that alerts people about speed.
“Well, it gives us dual use, we try to put them in areas where there’s high traffic flow, and so while it’s helping us reduce speed and make the community safer, it’s also looking out for vehicles that’s been associated with reported crime nationwide that may come through this area,” he said.
Rowe said the reader is connected to national databases.
“Basically, what it does is searches for license plates that’s been entered in the database already that’s been associated with criminal activity or missing person or Amber Alerts,” he said.
For several years the department has had license plate readers on a few cruisers, but Rowe said this is the first time the office has license plate readers that automatically send the department real-time alerts for wanted vehicles.
“Then it’s up to us to get out and do our legwork to verify that it is the actual vehicle and confirm the information before we take any action,” he said.
The trailer will be purchased with part of a $56,00 grant for the U.S. Department of Justice. The Wake County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the grant agreement as part of the consent agenda during its meeting Monday.
“We really just want to be a good partner with the sheriff’s office, and we know that public safety is important not only to our constituents and to the community, but to all seven of the commissioners as well,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Shinica Thomas.
CBS 17 asked Rowe about privacy concerns and he said this was about safety. He said the device does not capture individual information, only the license plate and car description.
As for whether the device could be deployed to large-scale events like concerts or games, Rowe said the department will analyze what locations are best and at this time nothing is off the table.
There’s no start date yet, but Rowe hopes to begin using the device soon.