Mobility Solved Blog


Embracing LPR Technology: Way More Pro than Con

Posted 4 years 150 days ago ago by     0 Comments

When you think about all the crime-fighting tools used to track down and identify criminals, you may not realize just how critical the license plate is.  But, when you consider that approximately 70-percent of all serious crime involves a motor vehicle (per the International Association of Chiefs of Police), it just makes sense.  As commonplace as the stamped-and-painted rectangles of aluminum are, they often play an incredibly important role in catching the bad guys.  (There even exists a national award program focused on promoting it.*) 

Up until the past couple of decades, “License Plate Recognition” consisted solely of a law-enforcement officer’s personal observation followed by a call into dispatch or by the officer running their own database search on a Mobile Data Computer.  Nowadays, LPR systems, like those designed by Genetec, have become so smart, they not only have the capability of scanning thousands of plates per day and immediately running the data against a database “hot list”, but can identify other pertinent information like a car’s color, make and model, estimated speed and its direction of travel.

Despite protests by the American Civil Liberties Union that the scanners infringe on the rights of innocent drivers whose plates are captured in the sweep, more and more police departments are contemplating expanding their use of LPR.   To understand why this tech is so crucial and why we at PCS Mobile think more PDs should expand their programs, consider all the good it has done. LPR has been credited with:

·         Helping to capture felons before they entered major retail centers (see “Operation Safe Shop” in Jackson, FL).

·         Flagging the cars of wanted narcotic dealers.

·         Putting criminals behind bars.  (At a hotel in Mississippi, police used LPR images to capture a woman who had eluded them for months as she conned unsuspecting victims out of money.)

·         Locating suspected murderers (like the gunman who recently killed two TV employees in Virginia). 

·         Assisting in the capture of carjackers.

·         Providing regional data that can place the same car at multiple crime scenes, a suspect at the scene of a crime or locate witnesses.

·         Pro-actively preventing crime by reducing thefts at places like gas stations and construction sites.

·         Paying for itself through increased recovery of outstanding fines.

And the list goes on. 

As long as strict rules, regulations and procedures are put into place to protect the innocent (keeping the private private and doling out heavy consequences for profiling), one shouldn’t take issue with the increased use of LPR systems in our nation’s police departments.  Considering the pros (and the capturing of all those cons), all us upstanding citizens should be embracing it.

(Thank you to SDM’s article entitled “LPR Assists Law Enforcement”.  Check it out for in-depth information on a portion of the list above.)

(*The Looking Beyond the License Plate award program, conducted in cooperation with the IACP’s Highway Safety Committee and open to all sworn law-enforcement officers, has attracted over 2000 entries since its inception in 1998. The instances where license plate observations “led directly to the solution of a crime and the apprehension of a suspect, to the discovery of a fugitive wanted on an outstanding warrant, or to the arrest of a previous violator of a traffic or motor vehicle regulation” speak to the effectiveness of license-plate recognition as a crime-fighting tool.)

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