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Forget Red-Light Cameras; Cameras Now Identifying Tags

Neighborhood cameras are looking different and producing more effective results now that law enforcement in Tampa has a two-way camera that identifies cars both front and back.

In 2010, a $25,000 tags readers was set up near the University of South Florida in Hillsborough County, The results are that a stolen vehicle or one noted in any sort of crime can be identified by the cameras installed that are similar to toll booth cameras. The two cameras face in opposite directions atop a pole, so the vehicles that pass by are tagged both front and back.

This is how they work. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office was recently alerted about a stolen vehicle in the university area. The alert from the dual-cam was a photograph on a stolen car. Two deputies were dispatched and they found the car with the two men inside. They were immediately charged with grand theft auto, arrested and booked into jail.

Arrests like this are taking place across the country with similar tag readers. Thousands of vehicles pass by on metropolitan streets everyday. The cameras near USF have been installed for one year, and scan 1.3 million license plates in 90 days.

Major J.R. Burton announced that within that period they had 1,159 hits. Tag readers are an inexpensive method of catching criminals both police and sheriff's agree.

The other side to this issue is the privacy concern for the thousands of law-abiding citizens who also drive by and are recorded. Florida ACLU spokesman Baylor Johnson expressed the concern after a study was completed last summer when the results showed there was no uniform way in handling the car tags.. In Florida, the privacy issue was reviewed, and the sheriff's office deletes all tags after 90 days except the ones involved in an investigation. The ACLU only shows concerns with happens to the information because they express that "security equipment can be a two-edged sword."

Major Burton in Tampa comments that if a law abiding citizen's tag is captured at 122 Ave. and 15th St., there is no reason for concern. If you have just committed a crime, Tampa Police will be alerted immediately in a quick cost-efficient manner.

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