Motorists react to proposed license plate readers for Myrtle Beach

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The city of Myrtle Beach is turning to technology to step up security. Part of that plan includes 825 surveillance cameras in spots around the city, but there could be even more eyes in the sky soon.

When discussing next year’s budget, the police department put in a request to purchase static license plate readers.

The readers would automatically flag the car and notify officers if a wanted vehicle enters the city.

City spokesperson Mark Kruea says adding the readers to the existing technology in place will allow police to better use their resources

“Hiring a police officer is an expensive thing and you need police officers, but this technology makes that job so much easier and makes the community so much safer. We want people to know that there are cameras out there so if you’re tempted to do something bad, you’ll think ‘I cant do that in Myrtle Beach because its going to be caught on camera,” said Kruea.

However, not all the people News13 spoke to were convinced.

“I don’t like it. Another governmental tracking device,” said Doug Wright.

“I just think it’s a cover-up for something else,” added Andrew Daye.

Hemantash Sridhara Ashaldaha was concerned over who is in charge of the video, “it’s all about who controls the information, and who has access to that”

The concerns were mostly regarding ‘big brother’ and who’s watching what.

“Why does the government need to track everybody there anyway? If I’m in public I’m already out in the open. What do they need anything else for,” questions Wright.

For Kruea, the need is purely public safety, “realize the government has issued the license plate on your car, the government requires you get insurance on your car, and you get a decal every year. The government already has a lot of information, this is designed to catch people breaking the law.”

The readers aren’t entirely new. Myrtle Beach Police already has a camera mounted on a patrol car that automatically photographs vehicles plates

“If you’re a fugitive from justice and your car is on a watch list somewhere along the way it’s going to catch that sort of thing,” said Kruea.

He says adding more readers won’t have an impact on ordinary people.

“There’s nothing we can or would do with that information for folks who are driving legally,” said Kruea. “We definitely want to be able to work smarter, and technology allows us to do that. We can do more, with less.”

News13 found several people who support the idea, including Rita O’Brien who is visiting the area from Michigan.
only one of them wanted to go on camera.

“There’s a lot of stolen cars, there’s a lot of bad things. What if a kid gets kidnapped and you can run the license plate through, why not? If it’s going to make people safe, I don’t see any problem with it,” said O’Brien.

The plans for the readers are preliminary. Myrtle Beach Police still need to decide on the exact locations, but it is possible they ask for cameras in all of the city entrances and exits.

As far as costs, City Manager John Pedersen says they still have to meet with vendors and numbers still need to be crunched before presenting a plan to city council.

Count on News13 to keep you covered on this story as it develops.

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