The city of Pataskala has a high-end security system, courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security.

The city of Pataskala has a high-end security system, courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security.

The system reads every license plate on the road, but it was the result of a hiccup in procedures, and it might not be possible to keep it, Mayor Steve Butcher said during a July 20 council session.

"Quite honestly, it's not a piece of equipment we would ever buy, even if we had the money," Butcher said. "Historically, communities that get them on their own lease them, and we couldn't afford to lease them."

Butcher said the equipment initially came to Pataskala because the Franklin County office of Homeland Security provided Licking County with four "license-plate readers" when it was supposed to provide only three.

"One of our police cruisers has cameras on the back of it," Butcher said. "We've been working for a number of weeks and months to find the funding through the grant process to find what's called a license-plate reader. It reads every plate that goes by and tells the officer if the plate that went by is a stolen vehicle or if there is a warrant out for arrest. We actually have a device on the cruiser."

Butcher said one of the cruisers is used twice per day. For maximum coverage, the plate reader was put on that double-duty vehicle.

"We obviously put (the camera) on that vehicle so the license-plate reader is out two shifts a day instead of one shift a day," Butcher said.

Butcher said he isn't sure whether the city would be allowed to keep the equipment.

"Today, Homeland Security said we need you to fill all this paperwork out to see if we can justify you keeping it in Pataskala," he said, expressing a hint of optimism. "Homeland Security appeared to be working to resolve the issue of that computerized equipment on the vehicle."

Butcher said the equipment was justified in the name of finding stolen property and arresting people with warrants.

"Somebody with a felony warrant on them are not the kind of people we want in any neighborhood," he said. "It does have a downside. It literally tells the chief of police every place that vehicle was at in the city. It shows the map it comes up on. Our intent is to make it so it's not possible for an officer to decide 10 minutes before his shift that he's not going pull somebody over who has a felony arrest warrant because it would force him to work overtime.

"It does not give us some flexibility when it comes to when a felony person just kind of appears, but it does give us some very good tracking tools to know the vehicle is in all areas of the city we want it in."

In other business, council approved changes to the income-tax ordinance to allow the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) to administer the tax, to apply for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the wastewater-treatment-plant loans and to pay for indigent burials.