Device used to locate TV shooter in use in Valley

File Photo
License plate reader on a Warren Police cruiser. The technology was used to locate Vester Lee Flanagan II along a Virginia interstate. He was suspected of killing a TV reporter and videographer. (WKBN File Photo)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The former TV employee suspected of killing two former co-workers in Virginia was located on an interstate with cruiser-mounted camera technology. That same technology is in use here in the Mahoning Valley.

A Virginia state trooper located Vester Lee Flanagan II using a license plate reader. The devices record the license plate number and immediately compare it those from a database of stolen cars. People with warrants and missing persons can also be tracked.

Warren Police and Liberty Township Police got the devices five years ago. A grant from the Department of Homeland Security paid for the cameras. Youngstown, Columbiana, and the Ohio Turnpike tollgates also have the cameras.

The Canfield post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol doesn’t have the cameras. But troopers do use the Law Enforcement Automated Data System, or LEADS, to work with neighboring departments. “For instance, if Youngstown would have an armed robbery and somebody got a license plate of the vehicle leaving the scene, they could send that information out through the system”, says Sgt Brad Bucey with the patrol. “Our dispatcher would get it and then we would get it in the patrol car and possibly be able to assist or make an apprehension.”

One local police chief says outfitting one cruiser plus a server costs $25,000 and each additional car is $10,000.

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