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The Evanston Police Department during the International Association of Chief’s of Police Conference was awarded an Automated License Plate Reader “LPR”, for one year without charge after winning the National Traffic Safety Challenge.
The LPR is being provided by ELSAG North America, a leading company in the technology of Advanced License Plate Recognition. Earlier this week the LPR was installed on one of the Evanston Police Department’s Chevy Tahoe patrol vehicles.
The LPR system is operated by two automated cameras, each being placed to monitor both sides of the police vehicle as it passes vehicles in traffic and parked along streets. The LPR recognizes and reads license plates, storing two digital pictures. The first image is of the license plate and then a wide angle photo is stored of the vehicle with the license plate. The LPR system on a daily basis is downloaded with a program distributed by the Illinois State Police that recognizes license plates and their registered owner’s information on vehicles that are stolen, wanted on warrants, missing persons, suspended registrations, suspended driver’s licenses on owners, and also has the capability to locate a specific vehicle being sought by the Evanston Police Department for an investigation if the vehicle’s registration is manually entered into the LPR system.
When an alert is generated on a plate that falls into one of the listed categories, the LPR records the longitude and latitude on all plates read by the LPR so officers can go back and locate the vehicle if the vehicle is no longer being visually observed by the patrolling officer. The LPR system retains plate scans for a period of thirty days. This allows police to go review the system if necessary to locate a vehicle that may have been checked previously and later determined to be wanted for a crime.
Within the first two hours of this system in Evanston becoming operational earlier this week, a stolen auto was located and recovered. The LPR system has the capability to locate vehicles that are in violation of unpaid parking citations; however the Evanston Police Department does not program the LPR for this type of use. The LPR is currently only being used to locate vehicles that are linked to violations of criminal laws or driver’s that may be in violation of the law by operating a motor vehicle. The LPR is being operated strictly for the safety of the Evanston community.
Many law enforcement agencies are using the LRP system to enhance public safety related to concerns on terrorism in the United States, in addition to identifying vehicles wanted for major types of crimes and locating missing persons. The system has proven to be effective in solving many reported incidents throughout the United States.