Orange County approves funding for license plate readers to fight crime

Readers will be used in high-crime areas, county officials said

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange county commissioners have approved nearly $105,000 for the use of a federal grant that deputies said is needed to prevent and control crime.

The county said nearly $45,000 is being used to install and buy two license plate readers for high-crime areas like Apopka, Zellwood, Lockhart, Rosemont and Eatonville, though the sheriff’s office won’t tell us where specifically they will be.

Many residents said the new cameras are a good thing.

“I would support that because it would help make the community safer,” said Sarah Belizairu, who works in Rosemont.

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“It would be nice (if) when crimes happen, they can spot the person who did it,” said Thomas Douglas, who lives in Zellwood area.

Most recently, the use of cameras helped Orange County deputies track down a man whom investigators said is responsible for four sexual attacks on women at bus stops in Pine hills between Jan. 1 and Feb. 25.

Sheriff John Mina announced the arrest of Nelson Odige, 30, at a press conference last week and how video in general plays a key role in finding potential suspects.

“You can’t drive a vehicle in Orange County without being on some type of video, we spent hours and hours looking at videos and other things,” Sheriff John Mina said.

UCF police told us their license plate readers on campus helped them track down a gang of roving electronics thieves after surveillance video showed them breaking into a campus electronic store back in 2020 and grabbing as many laptops as they could.

In Volusia County, Sheriff Mike Chitwood told News 6 these license plate readers have helped them solve a lot of cases. News 6 spoke with the sheriff in 2018 after making several arrests in such cases.

“That’s the beauty of this technology,” Chitwood said.

Orange County residents said they just want to feel safe.

“As a taxpayer, that’s what our taxes should go for,” resident Thomas Douglas said.

The federal grant will also fund more cameras for the real-time crime center and an emergency response bike for crowd management.

On the flip side, some people News 6 spoke with off-camera said they don’t like the use of license plate readers because they believe it gives law enforcement too much oversight, and they feel like they’re being watched.

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About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.