Sacramento-area Officers Use License Plate Readers in Holiday Sweep

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A multi-agency sweep conducted by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department was able to put 27 units in the field equipped with electronic license plate readers, or LPR’s. The sweep concentrated on recovering stolen cars and DUI suspects.

LPR’s are capable of recording hundreds of license plates an hour as police vehicles cruise down the street.  A visual and audible alert goes off on a video screen when it connects a plate with a stolen vehicle or one that has been connected to a crime from various data bases.

Plates that are recorded by infrared cameras, whether on the move or parked, are also put into a database, whether they are connected to a crime or not. That data base cross-checked by an LPR on the fly as it drives down to street.

It allows officers to keep their eyes on the road while checking dozens of cars that might be connected to parolees, probationers or people who have warrants.

While some are concerned about privacy issues created when random cars and their owners are put into massive databases, officers say it allows them to do what they once did with pencil, paper and a radio much more efficiently.

Jennifer Morrow has such concerns, but they were put aside after her SUV was recovered with an LPR hit during the sweep.  The woman driver was arrested for possessing stolen property.

“It’s awesome, they found my car.  If it works, it works … I’m very happy,” said Morrow, who came to the scene of the traffic stop to reclaim her vehicle.

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