Orlando police to get access to massive database of license plate numbers

Technology could help officers find stolen cars

By Jerry Askin - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando City Council members on Monday approved giving the Orlando Police Department access to a massive database system of license plate numbers used nationwide to better track wanted criminals.

The database costs about $49,000 a year and will come from the police department's budget.

The goal is for police to work with a company called Vigilant Solutions. They will send OPD alerts when cameras, setup by private companies, detect a tag associated with a criminal case or someone missing. 

"We only have so many officers and so many sets of eyes. This enhances that and gives more data to it in a more efficient manner," said Lt. Jay Draisin from the Orlando Police Department. 

Draisin said it's an effort to also better embrace technology. He said the Orlando Police Department has been testing the database for about two months and have been able to recover several cars reported stolen. 

"Versus an officer having to come across this tag and run it, this does it automatically," Draisin said.

Right now, it’s unknown where these cameras are located or what private companies OPD will work with. Orlando police told News 6 they’ll only be notified when a tag is linked to a crime or missing persons cases. They said it’s not designed to invade the privacy of innocent people.

Residents and drivers had their concerns. 

"I’m a little against big brother just tracking me knowing my every move," Orlando resident Anetra Decosey said. 

Other Central Florida agencies said they've seen successes from license plate readers. 

Volusia County sheriff’s deputies said they’ve got almost 40 tag readers countywide that have proved to be a success for tracking suspects, and they’re getting 10 more over the next year. 

University of Central Florida leaders said in June they were adding tag readers at the entry and exit points on campus to better promote safety.  A spokesperson said Monday they're still in the pilot phase, including getting the technology up and running and training staff on how to use the system.

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