Strongsville police will have another way to identify fugitives and stolen cars soon -- with an Automatic License Plate Reader.
The high-tech camera is designed to snap pictures of license plates as vehicles go by and check them against a criminal database.
If there's a match, the system alerts police.
"It will allow us to work smarter, not harder," Police Chief Charles Goss said.
The device can be mounted on a stationary object, like on a utility pole or under a bridge, or can be carried in a police vehicle.
Strongsville will get the $16,300 system free. Cuyahoga County recently was awarded a grant to buy a number of the readers, and Strongsville will be among the cities receiving one.
The readers are typically used to find people who have outstanding warrants or are driving without a license, to spot stolen cars and to identify vehicles being sought during Amber Alerts.
Goss said police will be able to enter specific information into the system to track down people the department is seeking.
The camera can capture thousands of license plates per minute.
Councilman at large Joe DeMio said the reader will give police a big assist in keeping track of wrong-doers who drive through Strongsville.
"The volume of people who visit this community is enormous," DeMio said.
The readers have come under fire from the American Civil Liberties Union, which worries that the devices will jeopardize Americans' privacy.
According to the ACLU's website, law enforcement agencies can create databases that track and store the location of every motorist who encounters the system, not just those suspected of criminal activity.
It then "becomes a warrantless tracking tool, enabling retroactive surveillance of millions of people," the website says.
And that can reveal "deeply sensitive and intimate details of our lives," it says, keeping tabs on things like motorists' visits to churches, doctors' offices and addiction counseling sessions.
The ALPRs have been used by law enforcement agencies in northeast Ohio for at least two years.