Sanford PD to begin using new controversial license plate scanners



SANFORD, Fla. - Only Channel 9 got to ride along with Sanford police to see how the department's new crime-fighting tool works.

Sanford police spent $24,000 to buy two new Veriplate systems. The technology automatically runs license plates numbers through a database without any input from the driving officer.

A camera on the outside of one of the department’s undercover vehicles captures license plates.

“It's instant, about a tag a second,” said Rich Eldridge of the Sanford Police Department.

The system alerts for stolen plates, vehicles, sex offenders and suspended licenses, but nearly every tag that's passed is caught on camera.

Once the image is stored in the officer's computer, it stays there indefinitely, meaning they'll be able to pull it up years down the road.

But that leaves some residents worried about privacy issues.

“To me, it sounds like Big Brother,” said resident Nelson Beverly. “I'm not a fan of Big Brother. I don't like it.”

Others say it’s exactly what Sanford needs right now, letting officers do double-duty with a number of unsolved crimes in the past six months.

Other agencies can also cross-reference information. If they're looking for a fugitive or a certain plate number, they can look it up in Sanford’s database and better trace where that vehicle has been.

With the addition of the two new systems, Sanford police plan to have them on the road all the time.