Florida Sheriff’s Office Deploys License Plate Scanners

With the goal of locating missing people and stolen vehicles, the Flagler County Sheriff's Office is turning to the plate scanners at undisclosed locations. The data can also be shared with local state and federal law enforcement agencies.

by The News-Journal / February 6, 2019
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(TNS) — The Flagler County Sheriff's Office has begun using license plate readers, or LPRs, at undisclosed locations throughout the county to help locate missing people, stolen vehicles or criminal suspects.

The LPRs scan license plates and notify dispatch and deputies in the field the moment an identified wanted license plate is read while pinpointing a geo-location so that deputies can immediately respond, according to a media release from the Sheriff's Office.

The devices can be installed in stationary locations or by mounting LPR readers to patrol vehicles. The data can be shared to other local, state, and federal law enforcement partners who are using the LPR technology.

Flagler deputies used LPR technology Jan. 26 to track a stolen car near one of Palm Coast's busiest intersections. They ordered the driver to get out, unaware he had once been a fugitive profiled on "America's Most Wanted" for attempted murder and kidnapping.

The suspect, later identified as Michael Eugene Moore, 46, a man with a violent criminal history who was profiled on an episode of "America's Most Wanted" in 1996, eventually surrendered but only after a lengthy standoff that led to a helicopter, SWAT team and hostage negotiator being dispatched to the scene, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Two days earlier, Flagler deputies also were alerted when a LPR pinged on the tag of a vehicle reported stolen from Rockledge. Deputies spotted the vehicle heading north on U.S. 1 but the driver sped up as a deputy approached and tried to conduct a traffic stop.

The deputy watched the vehicle, traveling in excess of 115 mph through Bunnell, weaving in and out of traffic and almost causing multiple crashes, according to the release. The driver nearly crashed into a deputy's vehicle at the intersection of North Bacher Street and East Moody Boulevard, but then reversed and took off again.

Deputies discontinued their pursuit because of the danger to the public but, with an assist from the Bunnell Police Department, tracked the driver to Marion Street in Bunnell where a resident alerted authorities that it was her son that was running from them and that he was coming outside to surrender.

Josiah Merriweather Jr., 19, of 810 Marion Street in Bunnell, was arrested and charged with fleeing and eluding law enforcement and grand theft of a motor vehicle. He was taken to the county jail where he remained Friday with bail set at $12,500.

Merriweather also has a previous arrest history for burglary of an occupied structure, grand theft of a firearm, and violation of probation, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"This technology revolutionizes crime fighting and is already making a difference in Flagler County by aiding in multiple arrests and recovery of a missing and endangered adult," Sheriff Rick Staly said in the release. "Not only does this help solve crimes, recover stolen property and help us locate fugitives, but it will also aid in the recovery of individuals in the event of an Amber Alert or a Silver Alert. When lives are on the line, every second counts. We're glad to have another tool to advance our proactive and real-time crime fighting techniques."

The devices also are in use by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office and police departments in Port Orange, Daytona Beach, South Daytona, DeLand, New Smyrna Beach, Ponce Inlet and Orange City as well as 50 other agencies throughout Florida.

©2019 The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.