Plate spotting

LPR units act as mechanical eyes on the road


     An officer entering a new plate to the hotlist will be prompted by the system to search previous reads and can find that, for example, that vehicle was read by the LPR system 20 minutes ago in a Wal-Mart parking lot. "Now you know where to begin your search," Windover says.

     Officers can also check a partial plate off all the previous reads throughout the organization, which for agencies such as the New York Police Department, Windover explains can look back at millions of tag records.

     Windover says MPH-900 can be utilized to enforce geographic restrictions placed in protective order and sex offender cases.

     This capability, called geofencing, allows police to program geographic coordinates for areas such as school zones, parks or daycare facilities, and can alert officers off a registered sexual offender hotlist, should one of those vehicles be spotted in a restricted zone. The same principle applies to protective orders. For example, if an order prohibits a person from being near his or her ex-spouse or a child, police can input the location of areas so the restricted car triggers an alert when read by an LPR unit near the protected's work, home or the child's daycare.

     "We can cross match [databases] to sexual predators and basically create radiuses around schools, parks, baseball fields, daycares," Windover explains. "[Whenever] the subgroup of license plates - the registered sexual offenders - are encountered in that area, the alarm will go off."

     The information collected by MPH-900, including color images of the license plate, back of the car, date and time stamps and GPS coordinates, can be stored for analysis or future reference. ELSAG touts a 2008 case in which a man was convicted of a mass murder and arson in Fishkill, New York, in part thanks to an LPR picture that was able to discredit the defendant's alibi and instead, placed him near the crime scene in the window of time the crime reportedly took place.

Measuring the value of LPR

     Turning the LPR pictures into data in microseconds puts useful information into officers' hands far more quickly that yesterday's manual methods.

     In Hedley's 2006 career-changing experience, he says it was all to the LPR unit's credit that the truck was identified; the driver was not speeding and there were no other obvious indicators that something was amiss.

     Windover affirms, "Our equipment can tell [officers] whether or not there's a bad guy right next to him in milliseconds."

     Reading about hot technology is one thing, but pulling three girls, held against their will, from the stolen truck vetted the utility of this technology for Hedley. He retired from Atlanta PD last February and joined ELSAG, demonstrating the system and training officers on its use.

     He pauses when reflecting what could have been had the fugitive wanted for murder and the paroled registered sex offender not been intercepted that evening.

     "We could have prevented a rape, possibly a murder - there's no telling. I mean, there were two armed, dangerous fugitives, both of them with a gun, and there were three innocent juvenile females in the back of the car," he explains. "If it wasn't for the LPR, we would have just passed it and he would have kept going."

     As Hedley suggests, there are three girls from Atlanta who would likely say the value of LPR technology is immeasurable.

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