HOLMES BEACH, Fla. — If you're driving in or out of Holmes Beach, you will now have to pass one of the city's five license plate readers.
- Readers have been in use for just over 2 months
- Police chief said residents shouldn't worry about privacy
- More Manatee County headlines
The readers have been installed on Manatee Avenue, East Bay Drive, and at Gulf Drive and 27th St. They have been in use for just over two months, and Chief William Tokajer with the Holmes Beach Police Department says they have made roughly 40 arrests using leads from the scanners.
"We want to keep it a sleepy town," he said. "We want the criminal element to know we have this technology so maybe they go somewhere else."
Every time someone is driving with a suspended license or driving a vehicle without registration and passes through the reader, a ping is sent to every patrol unit. These alerts show up as a 'medium priority alert' on the officer's computer with a photo of the license plate and basic information regarding the violation. Occasionally, a 'high priority alert' will trigger, which means the driver is a wanted criminal or the car is stolen.
"You're not a welcomed guest if you're here in a stolen car, and we wanna know," Chief Tokajer said.
The license plate readers cost roughly $105,000 for a five-year period. Longboat Key is the only other Manatee County beach community to have license plate readers. According to Chief Tokajer, the scanners on Longboat Key helped solve a double homicide case in 2017.
While some residents have voiced concerns over privacy, the chief says your license plate only pings when something isn't right.
"We're not monitoring how many times you go to Publix or how many times you come and go on the island, that's not our concern," he said.
The city of Holmes Beach has only 4,000 residents, but gets roughly 10,000 - 15,000 visitors daily.