Sullivan's Isl. license plate reader technology to help solve & deter crime

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - The Town of Sullivan’s Island is considering getting licence plate reader technology to help solve crimes.

Automated Licence Plate Recognition Software use high-speed computer-controlled cameras that automatically capture all license plate numbers and cars that are in the camera’s view.

Police say it could have helped track down the thieves who recently stole two cars on the island.

Right now, other beach towns and multiple cities across the Lowcountry are using them.

Stephan Heyward is in support of them.

“It’s like why not, even though this is a low crime area, not much is going on around here, but why not check," Heyward said. "You don’t know who is coming through or doing the wrong thing.”

The Sullivan’s Island police chief, Chris Griffin, says it will be a very useful tool to assist law enforcement.

It can indicate if a car has been stolen, if there are suspended tags or if the owner of a particular car has an arrest warrant.

The readers are linked to the State Law Enforcement Division Database and can send alerts to law enforcement when a particular vehicle is flagged with an issue.

Town Administrator Andy Benke says Sullivan’s Island is a very small single family-residential community with a population of approximately 1800 people.

Benke says it can also alert law enforcement very quickly if a vehicle is related to an Amber Alert or wanted in relation to a serious crime.

"It is believed that this 'electronic fence' will make for a safer environment for those who live and visit the community," Benke said.

Town officials say on average there are more than 14,000 vehicles that commute daily on the island and that number goes up during beach season.

It could cost the town about $35,800 for the cameras and to have them linked to State Law Enforcement Division's server.

Stephanie Blakely supports the technology as well.

“I think it would be good just in case if there was a stolen car...or an abducted child and we know the license plate number to help track it to see and bring that child home faster,” Blakely said.

The chief says the funds could come from hospitality taxes. Some people who live in the area have also offered to donate money.

While there is support for the new technology some people feel it’s an invasion of privacy.

“If you’re not doing anything wrong, your license plate getting scanned really isn’t a problem, you can keep going about life, you’ll never notice it," Heyward said. "The only person that notice is someone that’s doing the wrong thing.”

Town officials say they could discuss the purchase of these license plate readers as early as the next council meeting in April.

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