SPI Police to Use License Plate Readers at Causeway Entrances

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – As South Padre Island prepares for spring break, police are working to ensure criminals aren’t entering the island.

The police chief tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS what began as a pilot program several months before last year’s spring break has now become a permanent set of tools in protecting the island.

South Padre Island Police Chief Randy Smith says those tools are automated license plate recognition cameras or ALPR.

He says the cameras are stationed on both sides of the Queen Isabella Causeway, reading the license plates of every vehicle that enters the bridge.

He tells us if a vehicle is stolen, was used in a crime or has been marked by law enforcement for any reason, his office will be instantly alerted. It’s a great line of defense.

“So what we want to do is at that location, right at the foot of the bridge start, our process of weeding out anybody that has bad criminal intent,” said Smith.

The chief also says the cameras are a great asset in making sure anyone who commits a crime on the island won’t get far.

If the police department has a description of a vehicle they can input into their system, the cameras will inform them if that vehicle is still on the island.

Smith says that way they can have an officer stationed at the end of the bridge.

He adds the cameras won’t read minor offenses, like traffic-related citations.

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