Government Technology

Arizona Finds Success with Automated License Plate Readers



August 31, 2006 By

During a demonstration with the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), Governor Janet Napolitano today introduced the new License Plate Readers (LPRs) now being utilized to instantly detect stolen and suspect vehicles. The LPRs have been in use at DPS for only a few short months, and are capable of reading 1,500 plates during a standard officer's shift of eight hours. By comparison, an officer can input approximately 40 in the same period.

Arizona's stolen vehicle rate is high, mainly because of its proximity to the border with Mexico. Combined with stepped up cooperation between the DPS and the state of Sonora, Mexico, the LPRs can eventually contribute to the detection of thousands of vehicles before they head south and become virtually impossible to recover.

"This is an amazing and highly useful piece of technology," said Napolitano. "They are efficient and will in time have a dramatic impact on the recovery of stolen vehicles in our state, whether they are used for human trafficking, drug dealing or to strip and sell."

Results:

  • As of early August, the LPRs had read more than 110,000 plates. The devices are in use in five DPS police interceptors, and are in use during the assigned officer's shift.
  • Each of the devices cost $22,000, paid for through a combination of anti-racketeering (RICO) and general agency funds.
  • The LPRs are able to photograph the driver of a suspect vehicle, in the event possession becomes an issue in filing charges or prosecution.
  • The LPRs can pick up the plate of a vehicle being sought in an AMBER Alert. The officer simply enters the plate information into the computer (mounted onto the dashboard), enabling the system to be on the lookout for the vehicle.

The LPR cameras are mounted to the front bumper of the police interceptor, while a keyboard and monitor system are installed in the front seat of the car. The system is capable of instantly reading and scanning a database of plates and alerting the officer if it is stolen or wanted.

Following today's demonstration, the police interceptor with the LPR installed tracked a stolen vehicle plate while heading north of the Coliseum grounds off Interstate 17 and Thomas Road in Phoenix. Two suspects were taken into custody.


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