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Gainesville police add license plate reader to arsenal
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If you’re driving around and see a Gainesville police patrol car with an unfamiliar device mounted on the back, you better hope you don’t have warrants out.

The Gainesville Police Department recently acquired a sophisticated new enforcement tool.

A new license recognition system allows officers to record and run license tags using a character recognition software, a technology previously unavailable to the department.

If the software records a tag that indicates a reason for the owner to be pulled over, from a warrant to expired tags, an alarm goes off.

The department shelled out $19,050 for the technology, but police expect it will eventually pay for itself in fees, police spokesman Kevin Holbrook said.

The department has had the device for about two weeks, and already has gotten good mileage out of it.

The officer who operates the device is on the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement Team in the Pro-active Community Enforcement Unit.

That officer made a felony drug arrest within 20 minutes of using the device, Holbrook said.

The device could be instrumental in catching and investigating anything from expired tags to Amber Alerts, Holbrook said.