Yakima Police say they welcome new cameras that will read license plates and help them catch wanted criminals. But local authorities say they've been in use for years in Yakima Police patrol vehicles.

10 OF THE 15 CAMERAS WILL SOON BE AT CITY ENTRANCES

The city has approved the purchase of 15 special cameras to be mounted at the entrances to the city to find wanted criminals. They're called Vigilant Automatic License Plate Recognition cameras and the software associated with these cameras will provide information to detectives and patrol quickly and efficiently. Ten of the cameras will be placed at entrances to the city and five others will be used where police say they see the highest level of crime in the city.

LICENSE PLATE READER CAMERAS HAVE BEEN IN PATROL CARS FOR YEARS

The city is paying $110,000 for the cameras with an annual subscription cost of $5,000. Capt. Jay Seely says the cameras will be invaluable to officers fighting crime on the streets. But he says Yakima shouldn't be alarmed. Similar cameras are already in use and have been for years in Yakima. Seely says many police patrol cars have been equipped with the license plate readers for years and they've helped officers find many wanted criminals and stolen vehicles. Having the cameras mounted in specific areas of the city will help police because Seely says many gang members who live in the lower Yakima Valley commit crimes in Yakima and then flea to other areas. Seely says the cameras will help police with intelligence information that could lead to an arrest or arrests.

ALONG WITH THE CAMERAS A NEW GANG TASK FORCE WILL START NEXT YEAR

Along with the new cameras will come a new relationship with the FBI early next year. The FBI Safe Streets Task Force is expected to be fully up and in operation early next year.
The task force will concentrate on gang crime and be operated by FBI officials along with representatives from the Yakima Police Department, the Yakima County Sheriff's Office, the Washington State Patrol and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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