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Big Brother and Cameras – Automatic License Plate Recognition System

Automatic License Plate Recognition System

Just spotted and photographed the latest addition to the Sheriff’s Office “Big Brother is Watching” arsenal – two trunk-mounted Automatic License Plate Recognition Systems have now been installed on some marked (photo) and unmarked cars.

Automatic License Plate Recognition System

The system has a camera on each side that optically character recognizes a license plate, then compares the license number to massive databases containing the license status of the registered car owner. According to Thomas M. Manson “Every now and then, a technology comes along that changes the way we do business. Automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) systems will revolutionize law enforcement procedure by providing officers instant information about their contacts via the automobile license plate.”

It is expected that a single cop could process hundreds or thousands of plates per shift. The databases will be searched, including the FBI’s NCIC database for wanted vehicles or plates, for stolen vehicles, for wanted felons, people with outstanding warrants, or outstanding traffic citations.

Manson reports, “Scott McCallum, system analyst for Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department in Florida, manages data processing for several of his agency’s ALPR units. He addresses its success at reading the variety of national plates, ‘We can pretty much read any plate in the U.S. As long as it’s a standardize[d] plate with a maximum of seven characters, we’re not going to have an issue reading it.'”

The Cost: A two-camera ALPR system currently costs between $20,000 and $25,000.


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