Harlem's tag readers bringing more to court

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Friday, June 20th, 2014

HARLEM, Ga. (WRDW)- New technology on the back of patrol cars is looking at your license plate. They're called tag readers and several agencies in our area are trying them out. In Harlem, they're bringing more people to court and more money.

One police car driving through Harlem can catch a lot more than you think. Harlem has three tag reading cameras on one vehicle so when those cameras snap a photo, they'll instantly know you're information.

"It's a valuale tool that we can use to help identify those that continue to operate out on the road way with no regard to tag or insurance," said Harlem Chief of Police Gary Jones.

These cameras can catch cars on both side of the road. The license plate picture shows up here and you can see if someone has a stolen vehicle, or stolen tag, or suspended registration and that ticket will set you back 790 dollars.

Of that 790 dollar ticket about half of that is collected and goes into a general fund which is where the police departments budget comes from. Four cameras cost about 25,000 dollars. Harlem said it didn't cost tax payers a dime. They got the cameras on a trial run, and then used the money from that to pay to keep the cameras.

"The violations are there and they know in a matter of time it pays for itself," said Jones.

Richmond County also did a trial run of those cameras. Deputies said they stopped more cars and saw an increase in tag violations, but there just wasn't money in the budget for it.
Columbia County also tried the cameras out and they said they didn't issue any citations and are still deciding if there's a need, but in Harlem there is.

"Overall, we're doing all motorist a favor by removing these folks that will not comply with the law by getting valid registration and insurance on their vehicle," said Jones.

More citations means more people in court. Harlem has seen the number of municipal court cases almost double in the past 6 months.
They used to see about 75 cases a month. Now, they see 125 a month, but those who live here say its a good thing.

"The law is on your side and will be helping us out," said Robert Seawell.

Harlem said they would like to get more cameras. Aiken County actually got the same type of cameras on a car this month.
You don't have to just live in Harlem to get stopped by these tag readers. It runs on a national database, so if you have an outstanding warrant or suspended license even as far away as California.