Spartanburg Co. sheriff’s office hoping to get license plate cameras

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SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (WSPA) – The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office could soon have new cameras attached to some of their vehicles that would allow them to scan license plates.

7 News spoke with the department about what these cameras would be used for.

“Any piece of equipment or new technology that helps us protect the citizens of this county more efficiently, we’re always going to be a proponent,” Lt. Kevin Bobo, with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, said.

The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office was recently approved to apply for a $69,000 grant that would help them purchase four mobile camera license plate recognition systems.

“Strictly another tool in the tool box is what it is,” Lt. Bobo said.

The camera systems would be attached to law enforcement vehicles and would help deputies get a clearer image of tags. They would primarily be used by the sheriff’s office’s interstate criminal enforcement team.

“It helps us do our job more efficiently and especially with two major interstates running through Spartanburg County,” Bobo said.

But when some folks heard about this, they were concerned about their privacy.

“I can see it being a good thing, but, on the other hand, everything that seemingly is good usually ends up not being so good in some ways; so you have to weigh it out, because it could also be an invasion of privacy,” Spartanburg County resident Pearl Lyles said.

But the sheriff’s office told 7 News that’s not the case.

“It’s not going to give you registrations back on every vehicle in the parking lot,” Lt. Bobo said. “If a particular tag on a specific vehicle has been tagged as a wanted person or as a missing person, that’s what it’s going to pick up on.”

The sheriff’s office can currently run license plates manually to access public information.

The department said they’ve seen other agencies have success using the device to locate stolen vehicles and find bad guys.

“A subject that was out on home detention for a criminal sexual conduct defense cut his monitoring bracelet off,” Bobo said. “He was able to be arrested safely without incident.”

They told 7 News their goal with these devices is to solve crimes and do their jobs quicker and more effectively.

“In essence, it’s working smarter, not harder,” Bobo said.

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