Tulsa County Sheriff's Deputies Using Special Cameras To Check License Plates

Monday, October 4th 2010, 4:45 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- Tulsa County Sheriff's deputies are on plate patrol during the Tulsa State Fair.

They're doing something they've never done before, using new technology to check thousands of license plates in the parking lots around the fairgrounds.

In the past, to run a plate deputies had to call dispatch, give them the number, wait while the dispatcher searched the computer and got back to them. Now, a computer is doing all that work automatically and it's much faster.

Corporal Jeff Organ may look like he's just driving through parking lots, but he's actually scanning thousands of license plates, thanks to the six cameras mounted on the back of his patrol car.

They are constantly snapping pictures of license plates, and then recognition software runs the plate numbers through NCIC, the National Crime Information Center.

Lori Fullbright, The News On 6: "How long does it take from the time it scans until you get the information?"

Corporal Jeff Organ, Tulsa County Sheriff's Office: "It's between 3 and 5 seconds, it's pretty immediate."

Lori Fullbright, The News On 6: "How many can you do a day or hour?"

Corporal Jeff Organ, Tulsa County Sheriff's Office: "I can do around 250 an hour or during a shift, three to five thousand."

The program is checking for stolen plates, stolen cars, missing people, wanted people and plates associated with people who've been kidnapped.

When there's a hit, an alarm goes off.

During the 90 minutes News On 6 reporter Lori Fullbright was there, two alarms went off. Both were for warrants.

Once there's an alarm, the deputy confirms the information to make sure it's accurate. They can then either watch for the person to return and make an arrest or in the case of a stolen car, confiscate it.

"We've had the system for a week and recovered 2 stolen vehicles," Corporal Organ said. "One we got into a pursuit with, it was a motorcycle and we got it back for the owner and it wasn't damaged in anyway."

The cameras can scan plates at up to 65 miles an hour.

Corporal Organ says he scanned 9,000 plates during his shift on Friday.  The sheriff's office is just testing this system right now, but, plan to buy one or two of the license scanners.  They cost $19,000.