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GCPD Tries Out New License Plate Readers

The devices will help officers fight crime across the county and beyond.

The unveiled a new crime-fighting tool Tuesday at the Central Precinct in Duluth. Their new Automatic License Plate Readers are ready to hit the streets. The three readers are mounted on patrol cars and will scan plates in different parts of Gwinnett County.

According to Craig Duncan, a representative of the manufacturer ELSAG, the devices can read up to 1,900 plates per minute at speeds of up to 120mph. It will then compare it to a “Hot List” and alert the officer if the plate matches one of an alleged offender.

Duncan says this will give GCPD a digital advantage since 70 percent of all criminal activity in the United States involves a vehicle and a license plate. These include drug and human trafficking, carjacking and other felony offenses.

GCPD will be able to work with 23 other Georgia agencies already using this technology, including the Atlanta Police Department and Georgia State Police, as well as agencies nationwide. For example, if an Amber Alert is issued, a GCPD officer can look up the license plate in the system and see if the reader has captured a photo of the vehicle. The officer can then pull up the exact time and location where that picture was taken. That officer can then alert investigators to search in that area or notify other agencies that the vehicle may be heading in their direction. “Basically you can see a car go across the state. It will be a great tool for you guys (GCPD),” said Duncan.

The information collected by the readers will be stored on GCPD’s servers for up to three years. This can be used in court cases to either prove the suspect’s car was at the scene of a crime or uphold an alibi.

Duncan assured the officers that the cameras can pretty much withstand whatever GCPD may encounter, even being shot at with a gun.

“The readers are ready to use effective today,” said Gwinnett County Police Department’s Cpl. Edwin Ritter. Adding they needed just a little tweaking by Duncan and they would be ready to hit the road.

Each device cost $20,000. Money to purchase them came from funds seized in drug related cases. They can read plates from all 50 states as well as Canada, Mexico and even some Arabic characters.

David Binder June 22, 2011 at 10:28 PM
Several local police depts have these installed, as well as the State. It makes easy work of scouting large parking lots for stolen vehicles too.
Vanzetta Evans June 22, 2011 at 11:31 PM
I've heard some people say they think this may be an invasion of privacy. What do you think?

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