One Ardmore Police Department patrol car will soon be getting a technological upgrade. 

The department’s new implementation of an electronic tag reading device was first announced by Ardmore Police Department Chief of Police Ken Grace on July 19 at the State of the City address. 

“With this attached to our cars we can drive through the parking lots of the hotels or anywhere — you can be driving down the street and it scans everybody’s tag and it will let you know if it’s been stolen or if there are any problems with the vehicle,” Grace said at the address. 

Deputy Chief of Police Kevin Norris said the department’s budget only allowed for one device to be placed in a single patrol car, which will be used solely during the midnight hours. 

Information available to the device will stem from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a criminal records database that contains information about stolen property, missing or wanted persons, domestic violence protection orders and the National Sex Offender Registry. 

The device does have the ability to scan tags as vehicles are driving around, but its primary function will be to scan for stolen vehicles in hotel parking lots, Norris said. 

In 2019, the APD reported 35 auto thefts and 21 in 2018. The tag reading device will ideally cut down on these numbers, Norris said. 

Being the halfway point between Dallas, Texas and Oklahoma City, Norris said stolen vehicles from elsewhere are often found in Ardmore. Therefore, the new technology may also help locate fugitives from justice or individuals wanted for murder by linking them with a vehicle. 

Because the device only stores information a regular officer would have available to him or her, Norris said he does not think it will harm the public’s privacy. 

Officers regularly run random license plate checks while on routine patrol and the new device will simply make this process easier, he said. “It does not go beyond running a tag like an officer does, it’s just computerized,” Norris said.