SIOUX CITY - Sioux City police officers would be able to spot stolen vehicles and discover if the owners are subject to arrest by using an automated license plate reader.

The Sioux City Police Department would purchase one of those units if a federal grant is approved, Sgt. Patrick McCann said Friday. On Monday, police officials will ask the City Council to authorize the department to apply for $57,092 through the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. The money will be divided between the city and Woodbury Country, with each receiving $28,546.

"This automatically scans plates as the officer drives by," McCann explained. "It can spot stolen vehicles, vehicles used in drug transactions or owners who have warrants out for their arrest."

The portable unit could be used by squad cars or plain clothes police vehicles. This type of device is used by a number of police departments around the country, he noted. The city will use the rest of its share of the money to help pay for two positions assigned to the Tri-State Drug Task Force.

On another matter, Sioux City Fire Rescue will ask the council to accept a $17,500 grant to buy 500 more dual sensor smoke detectors and materials for use in its Residential Home Safety Program. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security awarded the money.

Lt. Mark Aesoph said the department is participating in the State Fire Marshall's campaign to provide two working smoke detectors in every home of children in kindergarten through sixth grades. The Sioux City department plans to provide the smoke detectors and fire safety brochures for households who do not have children in this age group, the poor and elderly.

The federal grant will pay 80 percent of the cost, with the fire department responsible for the remaining 20 percent, or $3,500. The department plans to seek sponsors to help foot that expense.



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