Automatic License Plate Readers: Vetting and Netting ‘Vehicles of Interest’

Posted on December 29, 2016 By Major Police Supply admin

You have likely seen Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) atop the rear quarter-panel or trunk-lid of police cruisers, or perched atop utility poles in some cities. License plate recognition cameras are also in fixed positions at toll collection funnels, especially useful in reading license plates on vehicles whose operators are in violation of traversing the toll without paying. Conveniently, license plate readers are also used at tolls to record vehicle license plates to be billed via mail. Transportation departments also use ALPRs on overpasses and bridges to monitor traffic flow.

Infrared technology enables LPR cameras’ use day or night. For law enforcement, those small ALPR devices are electronic-engineering feats which have the capacity to capture thousands of vehicle license plates in milliseconds, taking intelligence-led policing to new heights.

As a crime-fighting strategy, the purpose and scanning expediency of ALPRs aids police in effectively locating vehicles of interest (stolen autos, AMBER Alerts, subjects wanted in crimes, those named among terrorist watch lists, Homeland Security-related BOLOs aka border crossings, and drivers’ suspended/revoked licenses).

alrp camera

Agency Effectiveness

The suitability of ALPRs in the arsenal of a law enforcement agency is strikingly advantageous in fulfilling its mission. For example, the magnetic-mounting of LPR cameras enables portability from one police cruiser to another. Going off-duty does not necessarily mean the ALPR unit is dormant and useless. Simply relocating/connecting it in scant minutes is an option, making its effectiveness a plus for agency functionality and results-oriented performance benchmarks.

LEO Productivity

Akin to agency effectiveness as a whole is each of its parts. Every law enforcement officer (LEO) is measured in terms of productivity and crime suppression efforts. Outfitting each sworn member’s cruiser with an ALPR serves to exponentially increase his/her productivity which equates to crime-fighting successes. ALPRs are among the wise choices of technological instruments enhancing cops’ duty performance.

Officer Safety and Situational Awareness

Police cruisers with an ALPR can hone-in on licenses listed on Hot Sheets, denoting level of danger. Real-time results are produced via in-car laptops. The operating officer(s) in that particular cruiser can summon back-up officers then initiate contact with the car and/or occupant(s) therein. If the ALPR-vetted auto is occupied, officer safety advantages are paramount and ensure that sworn personnel deploy tactics appropriately (unoccupied stolen auto versus wanted homicide suspect).

Stolen Auto Abatement

The chronic nature of stolen autos in our nation is deftly combated by ALPRs, increasing police recovery ratios and closing more grand theft auto cases. Before the advent of ALPRs, police manually checked vehicle plates. Heck, before that, LEOs verbally transmitted license plates to a police dispatcher who, in turn, transmitted results. ALPR technology frees-up humans and automatically processes licenses. How far we’ve progressed in police operational capabilities!

Logistics and Budgets

In terms of quantity, purchasing an ALPR Camera for every patrol cruiser is easily defined by jurisdictional dilemmas in terms of GTA cases. Rural jurisdictions may not sustain many GTA incidents and thus may only feel it plausible to equip those cruisers in their highway narcotics interdiction unit. Again, portability of each ALPR compliments logistical changes.

In any event, ALPRs are a staple ingredient in the recipe to fight crime, protect citizens, and bolster officer safety principles.

If vehicles of interest are on the “Hot Sheet” they will be detected more easily with the phenomenal technology inherent in ALPR devices.

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