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Why License Plate Readers Can Cut Down On Crime

28 posts in this topic

From the Town Of Greenburgh Email list, by Paul Feiner. I'm really suprised Greenburgh PD doesn't already use this technology.

WHY LICENSE PLATE READERS CAN CUT DOWN ON CRIME…

Yesterday Police Chief Joseph DeCarlo met with the Town Board to discuss an innovative initiative that could cut down on crime—license plate readers. A license plate reader is a computerized system with integrated cameras, mounted on the outside of a vehicle or mounted on a fixed location. The police department currently has some license readers on police cars. It can take about 20 pictures per second per camera. It matches those plate read to a hotlist instantly alerting police to stolen vehicles, DMV infractions, amber alert hits and the NYS violent gang/terrorist organization file. Hotlist comes from DMV through NYS police and can be customized for local needs, including lists of persons wanted on local criminal warrants.

The photo of the plate and car surrounding it are saved. If a hit with hotlist, alarm sounds. All scanned plates are downloaded to a central server. LPR data may be analyzed by the Westchester Intelligence Center and is included in the larger pool of LPR data for the NY metropolitan area for use by law enforcement agencies including but not limited to the Joint Terrorist Task Force and NYPD Intel.

Participating sharing agencies limit the use of the data for law enforcement agencies. Some residents have expressed concern about privacy issues. The chief indicated that the license plate reader info would not be used for civil matters. The license plate readers can be used to catch would be burglars and to cut down on local crime. The town will be seeking grants for the license plate readers. I have advised the Police Chief that I would be willing to support the funding of two readers to be placed in a section of town that has experienced burglaries.

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What is so "private"? A license plate is a small billboard visible for the entire public, INCLUDING LAW ENFORCEMENT, to see, every single day. How is a device that captures it, owned and employed by law enforcement, anything wrong???

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On second thought, maybe the Town Of Greenburgh could have bought multiple units for the PD from the revenue they could have had if they didn't screw up the 100,000 tickets.

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I'm not sure why plate readers cut down on crime. Its worrisome that they're thinking but at least they're on our side. Mr. Feiner should look into proofreading his e-mails.

More to the topic, why waste the money on 2 fixed plate readers. Greenburgh is so large and has so many roads in and out, outfitting every patrol car first seems much more cost effective and practical.

Edited by ny10570

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Hmmm.

I used to work in a village just outside the small market town of Royston, England. Very nice sleepy little market town, not much crime.

The police there recently announced they had been approved for a pilot project; Royston is to be the first town entirely ringed by cameras. Automatic plate recognition cameras on every single road in and out of the town. All vehicle movements to be logged in a database. They actually said in the local paper they were proud and pleased that the movements of every car would be monitored and logged, and no-one would be able to enter or leave town without them knowing about it and recording it.

It's called the 'database state'. Be VERY careful where this road leads to. It's hugely controversial in the UK, where surveillance has gone considerably further than in the USA. http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/home/2011/03/britains-first-town-with-nowhere-to-hide.html

As I said when I heard about the Royston situation... '1984' was a WARNING, not a bloody INSTRUCTION MANUAL!

Mike

Bnechis likes this

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There was an article online somewhere not long ago about a town in California doing something similar. I personally think that having someone know your every move while in a vehicle is a little creepy. I can understand from a crime point of view but not everyone is a criminal and likes having their every turn documented.

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Our LPR hasn't worked in months because of a software issue. When it was working, it was too sensitive. It would pick up on signs and lettering on the sides of vehicles. Was also easier to use if you were in a fixed location facing 1 direction. Worked well driving through parking lots.

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http://www.securitymanagement.com/news/new-york-citys-ring-steel-gets-wider-006294

10/05/2009 - The network of surveillance cameras; license-plate readers; and chemical, biological, and radiological sensors that protect lower Manhattan will expand to cover mid-town, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced yesterday.

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Our LPR hasn't worked in months because of a software issue. When it was working, it was too sensitive. It would pick up on signs and lettering on the sides of vehicles. Was also easier to use if you were in a fixed location facing 1 direction. Worked well driving through parking lots.

Sounds like someone ought to get it fixed!

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My dads crusier is outfitted with LPR one on each side of the trunk. He said its as easy as turning on the LPR and MDT in the car and selecting which mode you want moving or stationary and then going. I was talking to him at the station once the LPR was on a car drove by the cruiser and it made an alarm sound almost like a cell phone text message and on the MDT it showed a picture of the plate and had the drivers info next to it. Being in a smaller community the LPR doesnt get tons of hit but it still picks out the plates, although out of the 4 officers assigned to the car he is the only one that uses the LPR.

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I didn't realize that these will be in FIXED locations and not on traffic enforcement cars:

LoHud Article:

http://www.lohud.com/article/20110508/NEWS02/105080350/In-wake-burglaries-Greenburgh-considers-fixed-license-plate-readers?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage

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I told the author of that article that the story was good, but I again question why the ACLU, and only the ACLU is asked for an opnion. I told the writer to also ask moderate and conservative groups their opinions next time so this way, the story is balanced.

The media does this time and time again, only the ACLU gets asked for an opinion.

Your license plate data is already stored in NYSPIN, so what is the big deal about this??? Are the opponents aware of smart phone tracking??? Are these the same people who post their life stories on Facebook???

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I told the author of that article that the story was good, but I again question why the ACLU, and only the ACLU is asked for an opnion. I told the writer to also ask moderate and conservative groups their opinions next time so this way, the story is balanced.

The media does this time and time again, only the ACLU gets asked for an opinion.

Your license plate data is already stored in NYSPIN, so what is the big deal about this??? Are the opponents aware of smart phone tracking??? Are these the same people who post their life stories on Facebook???

My license plate data is stored in NYSPIN. You are correct. That simply tells them that I have a motor vehicle registered in the state. I also don't have an issue with the license plate readers getting the information from my plate and flagging me if I'm wanted. However, the problem I do have is storage of this information. If I pass a cop at the intersection of Main and Union and the reader says "yup, plate ABC123 is ok", that should be the end of it. I don't want these machines knowing that I went through Main and Market at 12:00 on 5/12/2011 three days later.

Smart phone tracking is different and so is facebook. If you choose to allow yourself to be tracked, so be it (and yes, I know it was recently found that some phones were being tracked without the user's knowledge and that is being or has been rectified). I don't want the government keeping a record of my daily travel habits simply because I own a car.

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If I pass "Main and Union" on the same date they have a homicide there, I'm not concerned that they now have the ability to interview anyone (myself included) who happened to be in the area. If I had nothing to do with it, I'll be glad to say so when/if they get around to contacting me. However, in my opinion, it's a small inconvenience if it allows them to catch up with whomever it was that perpetrated the crime at that location.

I shy (far) away from conspiracy theories and unwarranted overreactions.

Moreover, based on some of the comments and questions posted, it appears to me people may be somewhat misinformed about how this technology works and is used. Perhaps better public education would clear things up?

Edited by INIT915

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My license plate data is stored in NYSPIN. You are correct. That simply tells them that I have a motor vehicle registered in the state. I also don't have an issue with the license plate readers getting the information from my plate and flagging me if I'm wanted. However, the problem I do have is storage of this information. If I pass a cop at the intersection of Main and Union and the reader says "yup, plate ABC123 is ok", that should be the end of it. I don't want these machines knowing that I went through Main and Market at 12:00 on 5/12/2011 three days later.

Smart phone tracking is different and so is facebook. If you choose to allow yourself to be tracked, so be it (and yes, I know it was recently found that some phones were being tracked without the user's knowledge and that is being or has been rectified). I don't want the government keeping a record of my daily travel habits simply because I own a car.

The license plate issued to you is the property of the Department of Motor Vehicles and your information as the registrant for a vehicle is maintained in accordance with the Laws of New York and Rules and Regulations of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Upon cancellation of your insurance or transfer of ownership of the vehicle the license plates are, by law, supposed to be surrendered to DMV.

There is no expectation of privacy on a public highway and there is no intrusion from the capture of plate data by an LPR so what's the issue?

I think the benefits of being able to catch pattern criminals, detect stolen vehicles, and apprehend other offenders through the judicious use of this technology far outweighs any perceived inconveniences.

crime cop likes this

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My license plate data is stored in NYSPIN. You are correct. That simply tells them that I have a motor vehicle registered in the state. I also don't have an issue with the license plate readers getting the information from my plate and flagging me if I'm wanted. However, the problem I do have is storage of this information. If I pass a cop at the intersection of Main and Union and the reader says "yup, plate ABC123 is ok", that should be the end of it. I don't want these machines knowing that I went through Main and Market at 12:00 on 5/12/2011 three days later.

Smart phone tracking is different and so is facebook. If you choose to allow yourself to be tracked, so be it (and yes, I know it was recently found that some phones were being tracked without the user's knowledge and that is being or has been rectified). I don't want the government keeping a record of my daily travel habits simply because I own a car.

I don't get it... if you aren't doing anything wrong then who cares what the government knows ? If you live an unsullied life then you have nothing to fear from minimal government intrusion and thats what this is... minimal intrusion.

As many of the police officers on here have said already, you have no expectation of privacy when it comes to license plates and DMV information. From a license plate that I run on a traffic stop or as part of an investigation, I can get a name, address, warrants, parole info, drivers license info, past accidents that you have had and if there were injuries or if there were reports made, sex offender info, orders of protection, etc... so maybe 20 years ago it was just that you owned a car, now it's a whole lot more.

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The license plate issued to you is the property of the Department of Motor Vehicles and your information as the registrant for a vehicle is maintained in accordance with the Laws of New York and Rules and Regulations of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Upon cancellation of your insurance or transfer of ownership of the vehicle the license plates are, by law, supposed to be surrendered to DMV.

There is no expectation of privacy on a public highway and there is no intrusion from the capture of plate data by an LPR so what's the issue?

I think the benefits of being able to catch pattern criminals, detect stolen vehicles, and apprehend other offenders through the judicious use of this technology far outweighs any perceived inconveniences.

There is no expectation of privacy on a public highway? Excuse me? I for damn sure expect to have my privacy protected while traveling. The government has no right to know that I go to Hannaford shopping every Wednesday night. You may be willing to give up your privacy, but I certainly am not.

An automated system to run plates is one thing and I don't have a problem with that (although it does toss probable cause out the window). Storing the information is way, WAY over the line. It is not only unconstitutional but against everything this country has stood for for over 200 years.

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There is no expectation of privacy on a public highway? Excuse me? I for damn sure expect to have my privacy protected while traveling. The government has no right to know that I go to Hannaford shopping every Wednesday night. You may be willing to give up your privacy, but I certainly am not.

An automated system to run plates is one thing and I don't have a problem with that (although it does toss probable cause out the window). Storing the information is way, WAY over the line. It is not only unconstitutional but against everything this country has stood for for over 200 years.

There is nothing "Unconstitutional" about it and if this technology was unconstitutional it would have been sidelined long ago but it hasn't been because it is perfectly legal.

If you are so concerned about your privacy, don't contract with the state of NY to use their license plates on your vehicle and drive a schwinn or a huffy to the store so the government doesn't know.

As far as probable cause goes, the police have many ways to have proable cause but again if you live an unsullied life you have nothing to worry about regarding probable cause, privacy, etc....

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Sorry, but you have almost zero right to privacy on the road. Not only are you in plain sight, but driving is a privilege granted by the state. As such they have rights to almost anything driving related you do. That includes how many trips to Hannaford you took last Wednesday. You're welcome to walk, but then you're back out in plain sight and the city is allowed to install facial recognition cameras along your route and track you that way.

helicopper, INIT915 and crime cop like this

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Do you have EZ Pass? That system records specific dates and times that you pass thru tolls. In speaking with guys on NYPD Auto Crimes Unit, the LPR does not record plates and locations. It will record plates that it got a hit on, and if IIRC the data base on the in car computer must be updated daily thru a WIFI connect at certain department facilities. The data base contains a list of registrations that are already marked by NYS DMV as being stolen, or suspended.

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There are different models of LPR's that use different software. There are some LPR's that only scan plates and give you hits on active files, suspended reg, warrant hits on the R/O, etc...

There are some LPR's that can record plates and locations and send them to a database for later review. This is especially helpful at major crime scenes where in the past the cops would have to take EVERY plate in the area by hand and run them later one by one, now a plate reader equipped radio car can come by and drive the streets and record all the plates in the area for later investigation.

I took an auto crimes class in Albany a few years ago and there was a Rep from Elsag who gave us a presentation that said that the top of the line LPR can record plates and you can type the plate in and the computer will tell you when and where you last passed the plate and for those cops who work in the dessert or in remote areas, the computer will even give you the GPS coordinates of your last contact.

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I wonder if it is worth getting a Canadian or Central / South American registered vehicle? :D

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Do you have EZ Pass? That system records specific dates and times that you pass thru tolls. In speaking with guys on NYPD Auto Crimes Unit, the LPR does not record plates and locations. It will record plates that it got a hit on, and if IIRC the data base on the in car computer must be updated daily thru a WIFI connect at certain department facilities. The data base contains a list of registrations that are already marked by NYS DMV as being stolen, or suspended.

EZ Pass is a different story. You can choose not to have EZ Pass, so if you're cheating on your wife on the other side of the bridge, she won't be able to use that information in divorce court. However, there is no option other than to drive (in most non-urban cases). P.S. I'm not married, so this example doesn't apply to me. :)

I don't buy the idea that "if you're not doing anything wrong, there's nothing to worry about". If my license plate data were grabbed by someone, maybe an unscrupulous cop or someone who was able to hack the database, they would be able to tell that my house was empty between 2 certain times every day or week and rob it.

As a nation, we were willing to give up a lot of freedom after 9/11 with the Patriot Acts (which should also be challenged for constitutionality). People are starting to realize that their liberties are being stripped from them by government and technology one by one and are fighting to get them back. Just this week, Texas has passed a law to make the "pat downs" of airline customers illegal. Good for them!

SRS131EMTFF likes this

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Part of me would like to offer a rational response, but since we've starting delving into the "what-if's" and pretty far out there ones at that, I'm not sure any more good can come of it.

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There is no expectation of privacy on a public highway? Excuse me? I for damn sure expect to have my privacy protected while traveling. The government has no right to know that I go to Hannaford shopping every Wednesday night. You may be willing to give up your privacy, but I certainly am not.

An automated system to run plates is one thing and I don't have a problem with that (although it does toss probable cause out the window). Storing the information is way, WAY over the line. It is not only unconstitutional but against everything this country has stood for for over 200 years.

Perhaps I'm not making myself clear. My point is that your license plate is not private and you can't drive down the street without it. The use of an LPR is not unconstitutional. It is the use of technology as an investigative tool. A town could put a cop or two out on the street to write down every plate number if they wanted to; the use of a computerized camera is just more efficient. What infringement of your constitutional rights do you perceive?

I'm a staunch advocate for our Constitution and our individual rights and I simply don't see the argument.

EZ Pass is a different story. You can choose not to have EZ Pass, so if you're cheating on your wife on the other side of the bridge, she won't be able to use that information in divorce court. However, there is no option other than to drive (in most non-urban cases). P.S. I'm not married, so this example doesn't apply to me. :)

I don't buy the idea that "if you're not doing anything wrong, there's nothing to worry about". If my license plate data were grabbed by someone, maybe an unscrupulous cop or someone who was able to hack the database, they would be able to tell that my house was empty between 2 certain times every day or week and rob it.

As a nation, we were willing to give up a lot of freedom after 9/11 with the Patriot Acts (which should also be challenged for constitutionality). People are starting to realize that their liberties are being stripped from them by government and technology one by one and are fighting to get them back. Just this week, Texas has passed a law to make the "pat downs" of airline customers illegal. Good for them!

If you're worried about an "unscrupulous cop" that's a weak argument.

The license plate data doesn't tell anyone whether or not someone is home, it merely captures the plate data. The LPR data and registrant information are different databases so it would be some pretty sophisticated hacking to get into one let alone both. If someone is going to do a hack that sophisticated, I bet they won't be doing residential burglaries.

I don't believe we're giving up any freedom with the proliferation of LPR's. They're not a part of the Patriot Act either.

As for TSA screenings, first I don't think that Texas will be successful in criminalizing airport pat-downs as air security is a federal prerogative. Second, the absurd system we have today was borne out of political correctness and expedience rather than true security. Because we can't profile for fear of offending someone that fits the profile of a terrorist, we have to inconvenience everyone.

INIT915 and crime cop like this

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EZ Pass is a different story. You can choose not to have EZ Pass, so if you're cheating on your wife on the other side of the bridge, she won't be able to use that information in divorce court. However, there is no option other than to drive (in most non-urban cases). P.S. I'm not married, so this example doesn't apply to me. :)

I don't buy the idea that "if you're not doing anything wrong, there's nothing to worry about". If my license plate data were grabbed by someone, maybe an unscrupulous cop or someone who was able to hack the database, they would be able to tell that my house was empty between 2 certain times every day or week and rob it.

As a nation, we were willing to give up a lot of freedom after 9/11 with the Patriot Acts (which should also be challenged for constitutionality). People are starting to realize that their liberties are being stripped from them by government and technology one by one and are fighting to get them back. Just this week, Texas has passed a law to make the "pat downs" of airline customers illegal. Good for them!

You can also choose not to drive a vehicle which would solve your whole problem, then you can pedal your way around or walk and not have to worry about the government or some "unscrupulous cop" robbing your house - which incidentally is one of the more outlandish ideas I have seen on here and a situation that I don't ever recall happening anywhere.

I would love to have things go back to the way they were on 9/10/01 or even on 9/11/01 at 7 am but there are certain people in the world that won't let that happen, look at the 2 terror related arrests in Queens just yesterday.

The patriot act has been challenged for constitutionality many times and has always passed muster, it is an essential part of our nations security.

If you actually read the articles about the texas bill which hasn't been passed yet, it makes touching the sexual organs of a person illegal, not pat downs of airline customers and when it's all said and done, an airport is a federal facility and federal law and federal requirements will trump any law made by the state that the airport is in.

As far as people "fighting" to get their rights back that have been "stripped" by the government, exactly what rights have been taken away because my life hasn't changed since 9/11 and I would wager to say that the majority of people except travelers would say the same thing. I really don't see a large nationwide movement of people "fighting" against the patriot act because deep down, people know and understand that it's in the best interest of the country.

And I will stand by my statement, If you live an unsullied life then you have nothing to fear from minimal government intrusion.

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And I will stand by my statement, If you live an unsullied life then you have nothing to fear from minimal government intrusion.

I'll take that one step further. I don't believe that it is an "intrusion" at all. You're not being stopped (seized), neither your vehicle nor the occupants are being searched, and no personal information is accessible to the LPR.

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