Grants Will Fund Webb City, Mo.’s New Police Tech

Fingerprint and license plate scanners are among the new tools coming to the department this fall.

by Kimberly Barker, The Joplin Globe / September 4, 2018

(TNS) — WEBB CITY, Mo. — A license plate reader and 16 rapid ID fingerprint scanners will be among the new gear added to the Webb City Police Department this fall.

The department recently received $39,750 in two grants from the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation for the new equipment, installation and training costs.

Police Chief Don Melton said the license plate reader uses a three camera-system mounted on a patrol car to scan license plates, which can help find stolen vehicles, sex offenders, wanted people and more by running the plates against linked databases.

“It’s constantly recording or taking pictures and identifying license plates,” Melton said. “Once it identifies a license plate, it searches it against the database, and we’ll share a database with not only Jasper County and Joplin but also other agencies within the state. Anytime that a license plate is stolen or a vehicle is entered as stolen with a license plate, it will give an alert if that reader finds it.

“Not only does it work for stolen vehicles, sometimes when an owner of the vehicle is wanted for something, they can attach that vehicle to the owner’s warrant, and it gives us an investigative tool to maybe locate a person who’s wanted for a crime,” Melton said.

The ID fingerprint scanners will be assigned to each officer in the patrol division to conduct fingerprint searches using a statewide database.

The department also will get a digiTicket mobile electronic citation system that can scan a driver’s license, enter the violation and print out a ticket rather than require the officer to go through the manual steps.

“With the digiTicket, all of that information goes straight into our database and the court system,” Melton said. “It saves a lot of data entry time and the chance of making a mistake. Cops are kind of like doctors — they have terrible handwriting.”

Melton said it will save an officer an average of six minutes per ticket; the department wrote 2,275 tickets last year.

The grants and equipment purchases were approved at the City Council meeting on Aug. 27.

©2018 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.