Police use new technology to catch criminals - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Police scan license plates looking for criminals

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Hickey says they're only looking for bad guys and they're not getting information off of everyone's vehicle. Hickey says they're only looking for bad guys and they're not getting information off of everyone's vehicle.
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Cape Girardeau police say they now have an extra set of eyes on the road to help catch criminals.

You could actually say it's an extra three sets of eyes.

"I do get some strange looks driving around town, people are wondering what's on the car," said Officer Darin Hickey.

You might have seen it, a Cape Girardeau Police car, now has three cameras.

"Every ding, is a license plate in the computer that it is picking up," said Hickey.

Hickey said they're scanning license plates to look for criminals. He said it will scan moving and parked cars as it drives by.

"It gives me a color photo of the vehicle, it gives me the infrared photo of the license plate, and then what the computer actually read the license plate to be," said Hickey.

The computer compares the plates to a criminal database of more than 280,000 vehicles.

Hickey said they're looking for stolen vehicles, stolen license plates, registered sex offenders, and felony warrants.

But, he still gets a couple questions.

"You know, are they spying, are they reading everything, are they taking pictures, you know what is the cameras for," said Hickey.

He said they're not getting information on every car, only the ones that match the criminal database.

"This is a tool that's going to help the officers and hopefully help the community, and so they can feel more at ease," said Hickey.

Hickey says they're only looking for 'bad guys' and they're not getting information off of everyone's vehicle.

"It is not checking every license plate for registered owner, and that's just too much information for us to process, it's too much information at one time," said Hickey. "The whole idea here, if there is somebody wanted and which there are, is to put the bad guys behind jail, and return stolen property to their correct owners."

The cameras can read parked cars, but they can also read up to a combined speed of 120 miles per hour. So, if the officer and surrounding cars are going 60 mph, the cameras can still check the plates.

"Obviously vehicles are moving all the time, so the more that this system is out and running, the more of a benefit that we are going to see out of it," said Hickey.

The Missouri Police Chiefs Association gave the gear to Cape PD. The three camera system costs about $19,000, but the local department will be responsible for the upkeep costs.

"It's a minimal cost especially when you're comparing to finding stolen cars and making felony arrests out of the system," said Hickey.

If a vehicle is connected to a crime, like an Amber alert, Hickey said they can enter in the plate to keep an eye out.

"This is a huge benefit for all the officers and I hope that the community sees it as a huge benefit, I hope that they see it as we see it that this is us in our attempt to make our community safer," said Hickey.

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