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3 scenarios where advanced LPR capabilities shine

The features provided by advanced license plate recognition provide law enforcement with a range of tactical and investigatory advantages

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An advanced LPR system will capture more images accurately and send automated alerts, freeing up officer time and resources and leading to more speedy apprehensions of wanted vehicles.


Sponsored by Jenoptik

By Police1 Brand Focus Staff

The development of advanced license plate recognition systems is making it much easier for law enforcement agencies to identify, track and intercept stolen/wanted vehicles and their occupants and solve crimes.

Thanks to Jenoptik’s combination of VECTOR high-resolution cameras and AI-enabled TraffiData analysis software, the sifting of roadway camera views for stolen/wanted vehicles can be handled in the background by computer systems. Dispatch and officers are alerted in real time when such vehicles are detected and available for apprehension.

“Officers are very busy on the street, and they can’t be everywhere at once – but the cameras can,” said Jeffrey Williams, retired deputy chief with the Columbus Police Department in Indiana and a Jenoptik key account manager. “They work 24 hours a day, and they see everything coming along the road. So when you have professional-grade cameras connected to a sophisticated AI-enabled system, the result is a force multiplier for a police department.”

Because ALPR does this work without human intervention, it frees up officer time and resources for other matters. Three common scenarios illustrate the power Jenoptik’s ALPR technology provides law enforcement:

1. Identifying stolen/wanted vehicles with greater speed and accuracy

License plate readers are most commonly used to identify stolen/wanted vehicle by reading the license plate and matching it to a hotlist as the vehicle drives past an ALPR camera. But not all cameras are created equal.

The image quality of a camera can make the difference between being able to identify a stolen/wanted vehicle or not. Some cameras can only capture reliable data on clean, visible license plates, in daylight, in good weather, traveling at 60 mph or less, versus being able to capture dirty license plates on vehicles traveling at over 100 mph, in poor lighting and adverse weather conditions. Many cameras capture only a fraction of the vehicles as they pass by, providing blurred images or license plates at so far a distance they cannot be read.

A high-quality ALPR like Jenoptik’s VECTOR camera has the image quality and processing speed to capture more vehicle images with more clarity and to identify matches by other features, like make, model and color, leading to a quicker and more accurate match.

A second factor critical to apprehension is the alert time. Many LPR systems take up to 20 minutes to send an alert, by which time the wanted vehicle can be miles away or in another jurisdiction. Jenoptik’s AI-enabled ALPR technology, on the other hand, sends an actionable alert in five seconds or less of a vehicle passing the camera, giving law enforcement notice in time to actually intercept and apprehend the vehicle.

“The Jenoptik ALPR system allows you to track such vehicles in real time as they drive past one camera after another,” said Williams. “This allows police to plan interceptions in areas that present less risk to the public, with dispatch calling the shots, not the suspects.”

2. Catching human and drug traffickers

Apprehending serious felons like human and drug traffickers typically requires extensive investigation and irrefutable evidence that will stand up in court. The ALPR system’s ability to spot, track and record the travels of specific license plates can help police identify places where these felons may be holding victims and storing contraband. It can also assist police in figuring out where the felons may be going next, so they can choose safer interceptions and arrest strategies.

“We can put a plate number in TraffiData back office software, and it will look back into the history of the system to see when that vehicle has been spotted in the past, by time of day and day of the week,” Williams said. “This kind of vehicle motion analysis can give law enforcement a good indication with a high degree of probability where they’ll be spotted again. So if you have a warrant for somebody, or if you’re looking for intelligence information and wanting to track a vehicle, you can predict with a great degree of probability where that vehicle is going to be in the future – and be there if you need to be.”

Jenoptik’s ALPR system can also produce a convoy report to help identify groups of vehicles of interest. The officer enters the license plate of the vehicle in question, and the system then identifies vehicles that have been seen in its company over time, driving together.

“This lets you determine who a trafficker’s accomplices and associates are,” said Williams. “This can be a real help when the trafficker themselves has gone into hiding. Their accomplices can lead you right to them.

3. Using ALPR as an investigative tool

Working together, Jenoptik’s TraffiData analysis software, ALPR cameras and archived traffic video and images can serve as a powerful investigative tool for law enforcement. This information can be used to discover and document suspect movements prior, during and after a crime – and provide the proof required to arrest and help convict the guilty in court.

A hit-and-run crash is a good example of how ALPR can make a difference. Even if this event takes place off-camera, any vehicle information provided by witnesses can be used to scour the video and image archives and spot any likely vehicular candidates. Even when there are no witnesses, the ALPR data can be used to assess vehicle traffic in and around the area prior to the hit-and-run and then be used to generate a list of possible suspect vehicles, giving officers a place to start their investigation.

In fact, ALPR can assist with any crimes in which vehicles are involved, as long as those vehicles have been driving in areas covered by the cameras. If so, all vehicle movements will have been captured by the system, just waiting to be queried and compiled. In this way, the ALPR does the tedious work of narrowing the field so officers can dive into the investigation with more likely matches.

In time-sensitive cases like Amber Alerts or Silver Alerts where lives are at stake, an ALPR system can provide fast, accurate answers to help officers solve crimes and get violent criminals off the street. In any vehicle-related crime, Jenoptik’s ALPR system can make the difference between long-running cases that consume department resources and cases that get closed fast and conclusively.

ALPR can do much more for law enforcement than just spot stolen/wanted cars more completely and quickly than human eyes alone. This is why an ALPR with higher image quality and fast, actionable alerts has become a tool that no department should be without.

Visit Jenoptik for more information.

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