Automated License Plate Readers help police automatically read license plates to track and stop crime

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Is your privacy compromised by the constant surveillance of your car? If the police know where you park, where you drive, what bridges you are going over, in real time, does this threaten your rights?

Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR) are the newest high technology in the police arsenal.

Usually ALPRs are installed on one or two police cruisers in a department, but not every vehicle (these things are expensive). Most police departments can’t afford the systems. However, a cruiser installed with these license plate readers can drive through entire parking lots of cars, registering one plate per second.

That’s fast!

The ALPR system, which typically has four cameras, two facing back and two facing front, cross checks plate numbers for warrants, out of date registrations and drivers licenses. When a wanted, or reportedly stolen plate number comes up, the system alerts the officer in the car. And when out of date registrations are found, an automated citation can be sent to the owner of the vehicle.

Some street sweepers in Washington DC are hooked up with ALPRs, constantly issuing tickets and alerting police to suspect vehicles.

Bridges in New York now have ALPRs installed to prevent terrorist threats. They record hundreds of thousands of license plates daily. If there is a police alert for a vehicle, authorities can search their directory of recent license plate readings to see if there is a match.

The systems are efficient. Instant information helps police solve or even stop crime… without invasive surveillance and fourth amendment contradictions.

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