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License plate readers: Fort Myers police utilize technology for downtown safety improvements

license plate readers
Posted at 6:04 PM, Sep 07, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On Wednesday, Fort Myers Police Department (FMPD) hopes they will be awarded a grant to pay for more license plate readers for the department.

“We are moving to a more intelligence-based policing,” said FMPD Officer Bensly, Melidor.

It's a direction that involves more technology and an approach the city of Fort Myers is supporting in its effort to solve crime issues in the downtown area.

People who frequent downtown say more plate readers could be beneficial for public safety.

“I live here and I would want it to be safe for everyone,” said one person.

While others say current safety policies are already making an impact.

“I’ve come down here many times in my life and I've never been shot,” said one person.

While the perspective on downtown crime can differ, the Fort Myers city council hoped by approving and submitting a grant application for more license plate readers for police, will improve downtown safety.

“The technology has been working so well for us, the more we have the better we are able to serve the community,” said Bensly.

Bensly has seen this firsthand, he is part of the
Fort Myers Police Crime Intelligence Unit, saying FMPD has been using plate readers since 2018.

Melidor said license plate readers are placed throughout the city and automatically self-scan and store a plate's information.

“If there is a description of a vehicle that we are looking for and that matches the license plate reader information, we are able to download that,” said Melidor.

Information that Melidor said can help lead to a faster arrest.

“Say, for instance, road patrols provide a description of a vehicle and they see that they went in an area where cameras are located or license plate readers..we are able to log on to the system and positively identify a vehicle that we are looking for,” said Melidor.

On Wednesday, talk of more plate readers has some people downtown saying it's a good idea, while others say it's misplaced money.

“If there is a traffic violation or something and they want to run the tags that is one thing but to pour money into that I think it's completely unnecessary,” said one person.

If approved, the grant with a total amount of $42,799 would come from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as part of its strategy to help law enforcement agencies prevent violence in communities like downtown Fort Myers.