By Tia Lynn Ivey
Madison Police Chief Bill Ashburn has asked the Mayor and City Council to consider at $66,000 purchase for four tag-readers, that would be installed in four city police vehicles, to detect passing license plates reported for criminal activity or civil violations.
According to Ashburn, the tag-reader technology will help law enforcement agencies work together to catch stolen vehicles, suspected kidnappers, murderers, thieves, as well as detect vehicles with expired tags or drivers with suspended licenses.
“It would benefit Madison and help with a lot with the crimes in the city and some of the traffic coming through off the interstate,” said Ashburn. “I think it’ll be a very good tool. Other agencies have them and are very satisfied with how they work. They have been around for a little while and I am one of those people that think when a new technology comes out, you have to give it a little time to make sure all the bugs are worked out, and I think these are in a good place now.”
According to Ashburn, one tag-reader costs $20,000. But if the City purchases four tag-readers, they will be given a discount, reducing the cost to $16,000 per tag-reader. Ashburn noted that four tag-readers would be necessary to ensure that at least one tag-reader is operating at all times, since the technology is installed inside police cars that go home with officers once their shift is done.
After the initial cost of $66,000 for four tag-readers, the annual update and maintenance fee would cost $4,200.
Ashburn also noted that the cost of purchasing the tag-reader technology would be offset under the next budget due to the Madison Police Department declining to request any new vehicles for the next fiscal year.
“It would be financially feasible to go ahead with this,” said Ashburn. “It would be an asset to the City of Madison.”