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Sheriff adds camera for security near transportation hub

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department employee attaches a camera capable of reading license plates to a traffic pole in Santa Clarita. Austin Dave/The Signal

Santa Clarita Valley commuters and residents might notice a new kind of camera near local railways.

The SCV Sheriff’s Station is the first to implement a grant-funded program that provided funds to install the cameras near railways, which have been identified as a potential target for terrorists.

The Automated License Plate Reader cameras, which are currently at intersections such as the one near the Metrolink station at Soledad Canyon Road and Commuter Way, help in two significant areas, according to Capt. Robert Lewis of the Sheriff’s Station, who sought the grant funding to bring the equipment to the Santa Clarita Valley.

The new technology assists law enforcement officers in two primary ways, Lewis said.

“The license plate readers are not meant to track everyone’s license plate,” said Lewis, addressing a question about potential privacy concerns, “they’re there to track if someone is on a watchlist as a potential terrorist threat or a (public safety) concern.”

The first way the cameras are able to help with public safety is by scanning license plates that pass by and determining if the plate is registered or associated with anyone on a government watch list, which would then use a multi-agency law enforcement database to alert the appropriate authorities.

The second way is that the cameras can scan plates and notify deputies if the vehicle’s registration is tied to any suspects who have outstanding warrants, a missing persons report or a report of a stolen vehicle.

“(The cameras are) another layer of security that we at the Sheriff’s Department are utilizing,” Lewis said, “to make sure the community has the necessary safety measures in place.”

Perry Smith contributed to this report.

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