Everyone driving on Interstate 15 in southwest Utah may soon have their license plate scanned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The DEA and two sheriffs are asking permission to install stationary license plate scanners on the freeway in Beaver and Washington counties. The primary purpose would be to catch or build cases against drug traffickers, but at a Utah Legislature committee meeting Wednesday, the sheriffs and a DEA representative described how the scanners also could be used to catch kidnappers and violent criminals.
Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel and Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher testified in favor of the scanners — which operate much like those used in the check-out lane at grocery stores — and said they need legislative approval to put the devices on the freeway and on poles and electrical lines belonging to the Utah Department of Transportation.
One scanner would capture the license plates of vehicles traveling south on I-15 somewhere in Beaver County and the other scanner would catch northbound plates in Washington County.
Gary Newcomb, a supervisory IT specialist from the DEA, flew in from Virginia to testify Wednesday. He said the scanners are already in place on drug trafficking corridors in California and Texas, and the DEA is considering placing them on interstates near the Arizona cities of Kingman and Flagstaff.
The scanners would capture only the license plate, the GPS coordinates and the direction of travel, Newcomb said.
Read More: Salt Lake Tribune