The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office has one patrol vehicle equipped with a new device that is paying off. The Tag Reader System was key in a drug bust earlier this week on I-95.
LCSO Maj. Dennis Davis said the cruiser normally used to patrol I-95 is outfitted with a TRS, which consists of four exterior-mounted cameras that take photos of passing cars’ tags, no matter which direction a vehicle is coming from. Once the reader takes a photo, the captured information is run through a national database.
Davis said the system detects expired tags and vehicle registrations and also will alert law enforcement if a car is registered to someone with a suspended or inactive driver’s license. If an infraction or a violation is discovered, the system sounds an alert siren and produces a picture of the car and tag in question. That allows an officer to radio ahead to have the vehicle stopped so a check can be conducted.
The LCSO started using the reader about four months ago, and Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes said the device has lead to several stops and arrests for multiple violations.
This week, the device led to the arrest of two Savannah men found with methamphetamine.
At 12:20 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Tag Reader System alerted a deputy patrolling I-95 that a vehicle’s registration was suspended. The deputy stopped the car and found the driver, Jerald Bowman, was driving with a suspended license.
According to Sikes, a search of the car turned up just less than an ounce of meth in the driver’s-side door, a small amount of marijuana, a loaded Glock .40-caliber pistol and a set of digital scales.
Bowman and his passenger, Lawrence Sheppard, were arrested and taken to Liberty County jail.
Sikes said the case is active and under investigation. Both men are awaiting a bond hearing.
The sheriff said the device is so successful, other local law-enforcement agencies are looking into purchasing them for their patrol cars. Sikes would like to get one more device for the LCSO cruiser typically used to patrol high-traffic areas in the county.