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Using License Plate Readers to Fight Crime - Panel at the 2010 NIJ Conference

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2010
12 pages
This is the audio and transcript of three presentations at the 2010 NIJ Conference that composed a panel on the technology, uses, and policies in the deployment of license plate readers (LPRs).
An overview of LPR technology explains that cameras capture images of a vehicle as it moves into the field of view of the camera, which may be stationary at a particular location, installed on a patrol car for mobile reading of plates, or used as a portable device in surveillance of a particular vehicle. The images are then converted into an electronically readable format using a series of algorithms. The license plate number is then compared against the agency's "hot" list for vehicles of interest, which may have been stolen, used in a crime, or registered to a person of interest to the police. In addition to a description of LPR technology, one presentation reports on the results of a nationwide survey of law enforcement agencies to determine whether they are using LPRs, and if so, how they are being used, the various challenges that have emerged, and how they are being addressed. Another presentation offers a practitioner's perspective on how LPRs have had a significant impact in increasing law enforcement effectiveness. It notes that LPRs are not only being used to locate stolen cars, but are also being used effectively in investigations, such as checking the movements of the vehicles of registered sex offenders, identifying persons driving on a revoked driver's license, and having prior knowledge of wanted persons in vehicles in a line at DUI check points. The third panel presentation focuses on an evaluation of the use of LPRs on "hot routes,", i.e., routes identified as most likely to yield a high volume of plates of stolen vehicles.

Date Published: June 1, 2010