PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — An automated license plate reader identified a vehicle as stolen in Virginia Beach last week on Newtown Road. An officer later fatally shot one of the occupants inside the vehicle during the traffic stop.

Virginia Beach Police presented body camera video and evidence from their investigation into the incident Monday. Body camera showed the now deceased driver, 28-year-old Deshawn Whitaker, pointing a gun at officers during the traffic stop.

President of The Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association Brian Luciano says officers can’t rely on just one method to detain the car and those inside of it.

“Not every situation is going to be perfect or textbook or a training scenario,” he said. “It could be one where you have the time to formulate a plan or it could be instantaneous where the people in that vehicle, they’re the ones dictating what happens.”

This technology isn’t new per se, the technology is just more readily accessible and more advanced. So how does an automated license plate reader, or LPR, work?

“When the LPR gets a hit, it will come up with the information that the particular agency will put in there,” said Luciano. “Whether it’s a stolen vehicle or a wanted subject and what they’re wanted for.”

It’s become a great tool for officers, especially amid high rates of car thefts across Hampton Roads. The technology can even identify stolen vehicles from across the country.

“It’s a great help because other than that, you’re just trying to find a needle in a haystack,” he said. “Back when I came on the job, you were given a description of a vehicle and it may have been a blue Ford and you were looking for maybe a specific bumper sticker or something like that.”

While this technology is a major help for law enforcement, it can’t do two things: pull over the vehicle and arrest the suspect.

“It’s still the officer who is the boots on the ground who needs to respond to these things,” he said. “The technology helped find the car, but it wasn’t the technology that made that arrest.”

Luciano says it’s important to keep in mind that finding a stolen car doesn’t just return the car to the original owner, but it also helps prevent future crimes.

“A lot of times, stolen cars are used to commit other crimes, whether they’re robberies, burglaries, muggings, things like that,” said Luciano. “So finding that car or finding any stolen car is most likely preventing future crimes.”

Following incidents like what happened last week, Luciano says it’s important for police departments to review each case and learn from it.