HANCOCK COUNTY — Law enforcement officials in Hancock County said they are seeing a lot of success with its system of license plate cameras.
So well, that they’re now adding 6 more cameras to the 16 they already have. Chances are you’ve probably driven by them and not noticed they’re there.
“We’ve used it quite a bit,” Hancock County Sheriff Brad Burkhart said. “My investigators use it all the time.”
Burkhart said his department has been using them for about a year and said they’ve been an invaluable tool.
“I’m looking for the criminals. I’m looking for people that’s entering this county,” Burkhart said. “It’s my responsibility as sheriff to make sure this county is safe. If that technology lets me do that and I’m gonna use it to help.”
The cameras take pictures of license plates and use technology to identify vehicles.
Law enforcement officials just need to input identifying factors like a make, model or vehicle color. Within minutes, police can see if that vehicle passed by one of their cameras.
“I know it’s a red ford maybe I got a partial plate on it I’m able to use those as all the search parameters to be able to find that car,” Burkhart said.
Police in Columbus just added the cameras to its arsenal two months ago.
Earlier this week the cameras alerted them that a stolen vehicle was passing through. Officers were able to track down the car and arrest the driver, 44-year-old Anthony Smith.
“These cameras they act as an extra set of eyes that assist our officers,” Lt. Matt Harris said.
Harris said the cameras also help outside of criminal cases. They can be used to quickly identify cars in amber alerts or even for missing people.
“When you’re dealing with those types of incidents or investigations that time is of the essence,” Lt. Harris said.
Some privacy issues have been raised, but both departments say if you’re not committing a crime, you have nothing to worry about.
“If you were a law abiding citizen i really honestly don’t care that you cross that camera,” Burkhart said.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s office said its cameras with 39 other agencies for a total of 321 cameras across the county.
The sheriff hopes to expand that network and work with departments throughout central Indiana.