Conway police seeking license plate readers over busiest roads

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The city is looking to join Myrtle Beach as the latest to add license plate readers positioned over major roads.

The Conway Police Department has four tag readers on the back of a cruiser. It received them about four months ago.

A camera shutter noise goes off in the car every time a license plate is scanned, although there were no alerts when News 13 rode along with Conway PD on Wednesday.

“If I actually had a hit, a small siren would go off in the computer,” said Lt. Reggie Hill, the patrol division commander for Conway police. “Once I get a hit, then I would verify that through our call dispatch. Just getting a hit on the tag reader alone is not sufficient enough to take action.”

Chief Dale Long says Conway police have caught about 15 uninsured vehicles with the tag readers so far. He says a flaw with the readers on the back of the cruiser is that they can essentially only be used when an officer is in the car.

That’s why Chief Long is asking the city to buy six stationary ones for the city’s busiest roads.

“They never sleep, 24 hours a day, always working,” he said.

Two plate readers would go over the Main Street bridge and four would go at the intersection of U.S. highways 501 and 378. One reader is needed for each lane of traffic.

Chief Long says like those in Myrtle Beach, stationary plate readers have a better chance of finding a car wanted in a crime than ones attached to a cruiser.

“Help us to get investigative leads, just trying to track people who don’t have insurance and catching stolen cars, stolen tags,” said Chief Long. “It’s working all the time to give us the information, whereas an officer doesn’t have to physically sit there.”

Like the readers on the cruiser, any license plate alert from the stationary readers would go right to officers’ laptops, wherever they are.

“We’ll be able to know what cars are in certain areas at certain times and when crime is being committed, we can go back and check,” Lt. Hill said.

Chief Long also says the tag readers can help other law enforcement agencies, since so much traffic goes through Conway, to and from the coast.

The readers are in next year’s city’s budget and, if approved, Conway PD hopes to install them this summer.

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