Monday, July 2, 2012

A scanner will record your license plate, where it was and when

Drive your car over aspen-covered Boulder Mountain in southern Utah or park it in downtown Salt Lake City or on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo and you can expect something to happen.

The recent request by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to mount license plate scanners on Interstate 15 in southwestern Utah met opposition, but law enforcement across the state, including police at BYU, are already using license plate scanners to find everyone from parking scofflaws to violent crime suspects.

Even before the DEA request, southwestern Utah had a concentration of license plate scanners.

The St. George Police Department has its own scanner, while other police forces in that county are on a list of agencies that can borrow a car from the Utah State Tax Commission equipped with scanners. The drug task force that covers Iron and Garfield counties also has a license plate scanner it has used to build cases against people suspected of growing marijuana on public lands.

A Salt Lake Tribune review identified 47 police departments and county sheriffs who use license plate scanners or have permission to borrow the Tax Commission scanner cars. Statewide agencies, including the Utah Highway Patrol, also use the scanners. Salt Lake Tribune