Suffolk County Police will deploy 15 additional mobile license plate readers in the Town of Huntington's Second Precinct that can detect vehicles involved in recent crimes or individuals wanted on criminal charges. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Suffolk County Police will deploy 15 additional mobile license plate readers in the Town of Huntington that can detect vehicles involved in recent crimes or individuals wanted for criminal offenses.

The readers are high-tech computer-controlled camera systems, mounted on patrol vehicles, that can rapidly read and cross-reference thousands of license plates per minute with New York State Department of Motor Vehicle records and law-enforcement databases.

The Second Precinct in Huntington currently has five license plate readers in operation, officials said at a news conference Thursday outside the Park Avenue police station.

"They are able to detect, through incredible technology, vehicles that are on the list of potential warrants and other issues that law enforcement gets alerted to," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. "And this will allow our officers to respond and to prevent crime. That's the goal here. It is to both hold those accountable who have committed crime, but also to prevent crime."

Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison, center, on Thursday outside the Second Precinct...

Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison, center, on Thursday outside the Second Precinct with County Executive Steve Bellone, second from left, and other officials as he discussed the addition of 15 license plate readers in the Town of Huntington.

Credit: Corey Sipkin

The $250,000 in funding for the license plate readers was secured by Assemb. Steve Stern (D-Huntington) and is part of a $1 million state funding package for Suffolk law enforcement.

"It's important that … the men and women of law enforcement, that we trust to keep us safe, have the very best technology available," Stern said.

Last week, department officials announced that 70 fixed license plate readers, obtained through a $1 million state grant from Assistant Speaker of the State Assembly Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood), would be placed on poles, message trailers and other locations throughout the Third Precinct, which includes Bay Shore, Brentwood, Central Islip, East Islip, Islip, Islip Terrace and West Islip. 

There are an additional 80 other readers deployed elsewhere across Suffolk, officials said.

Dozens of license plate readers have also been deployed by the Nassau County, Long Beach, Freeport and Hempstead police departments.

Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said license plate readers would only be used to track individuals involved in criminal investigations or missing person cases.

"We won't be targeting a community," he said. "It will be utilized to track down those that choose to take some type of criminal act."

Huntington community advocate Ken Patrick Johnson said the town's 200,000-plus residents "just got safer with the implementation of these license plate readers."

In recent months, license plate readers have helped police solve a hit-and-run in Brentwood, led to an arrest in an illegal dumping case and helped thwart a suspect posing as a cop who attempted to kidnap two teenage girls, Harrison said last week.

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