Longboat Key’s long-awaited license-plate recognition cameras are less than 60 days away.
Contractor L3 Communications visited the Longboat Key Police Department as well as the north and south ends of the island, where cameras will be placed, for a test run Thursday, May 30. The company wanted to ensure hardware and software compatibility.
The process of bringing the cameras to the Key seemed to move in slow motion.
The late Police Chief Al Hogle first proposed the idea in February 2010. But, there were problems with where to place the cameras. The Florida Department of Transportation wouldn’t allow placement of the cameras in its rights of way, and Florida Power & Light Co. told the department it couldn’t place cameras on its poles.
Police Chief Pete Cumming and Capt. Frank Rubino, who has worked on many issues related to the license-plate cameras since he was hired in February, don’t want to publicize the exact locations where the cameras will be placed.
But, there will two cameras each on the Longboat Key sides of the New Pass and Longboat Pass bridges — one to capture data from vehicles entering the Key, the other for vehicles leaving the Key. The locations are not in FDOT right of ways; the cameras will be placed on town equipment.
The information captured from the plate will be run through a current database the Florida Crime Information Center and Federal Crime Information Center will provide. Those agencies will immediately notify Longboat Key police if the registered owner of the car has an arrest warrant, suspended or expired driver’s license or expired tag, or if the tag comes from a stolen vehicle. The cameras, which will not photograph people, could also help in missing-person cases.
No one will ever see the overwhelming majority of license plates photographed, according to Cumming.
“This data doesn’t tell us everything about everyone who’s coming over the bridge,” he said.
The server has to be kept in a secure area, because it will be treated as evidence if it’s ever used in a criminal investigation.
Cumming believes the cameras could have a major impact on public safety, with officers increasing the number of stops they make because of the increase in information.
“Officers will definitely stay busier with this camera service,” he said.
• Near the south-end water treatment plant, just south of the entrance of the Longboat Key Club and Resort;
• North Shore Road and Gulf of Mexico Drive;
• Firehouse Court and Gulf of Mexico Drive.
BY THE NUMBERS
$79,487.42 — The cost of the camera system, which the department will pay for with police forfeiture funds.
250 — The number of milliseconds in which the cameras will capture data.
39 — The number of months that have passed since the late Police Chief Al Hogle proposed the cameras.
6 — The total number of cameras that will be placed on the Key.