Tyler City Marshals using new camera technology to catch offenders

Starting today, Tyler City Marshals are using some new high tech toys. It's a program that uses cameras to scan and record your license plates, even when you're not driving.

Today, KLTV 7's Layron Livingston hitched a ride with the City Marshals to find out if the city is getting a little too intrusive.

After more than 26 years of law enforcement, deputy City Marshal David Decur has seen lots of things added to the dashboard of a patrol car.

"This is by far the most advanced yet."

He and his fellow Marshals are the first to use 'plate-scan,' software which uses wireless technology to automatically record and photograph license plates.

"Think of it as having 4 very observant officers, with really good memories, always keeping a watch out on the roadways. Plate-scan uses 3 cameras mounted on top of the patrol car with another mounted in the back window."

"This thing has eyes for us, all around the vehicle now."

The system is connected to city and statewide license plate databases.

As officers drive, 'plate-scan' chirps, beeps and snaps photos.

It's seeking out warrants, outstanding parking tickets, stolen vehicles, and even registered sex offenders.

"If an officer is near a school and they hit a sex offender, they're going to know that they're near a school, or parked near a school and they're not supposed to be," said David Decur.

Officers have no problem spotting vehicles of interest. The system lets them know.

Violators literally get the boot, or more. We saw a driver today picked up for more than 950 dollars in outstanding warrants.

But what about the law abiding? Is this new technology an invasion of your privacy?

Municipal Court Administrator Cam McCabe doesn't think so.

"Anybody on the road is already deemed to be public. It's the same things the officers were doing manually - typing in your license plate without you knowing.

Marshals say the overall goal is to deny law breakers access to your roadways.

The municipal court says it hopes to cover the $125,000 price for the new technology with the outstanding warrants it will help bring in.

This afternoon, about $2,000 were collected.

Layron Livingston, reporting. llivingston@kltv.com