FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

Features

Sponsored by Vigilant Solutions

Go Beyond the Lens with Data-Driven Investigations

February 06, 2017  | 

Agencies that understand the investigative power of vehicle location intelligence are generating more leads, solving more crimes, apprehending more violent offenders, enhancing officer safety, and better protecting the communities they serve.
Agencies that understand the investigative power of vehicle location intelligence are generating more leads, solving more crimes, apprehending more violent offenders, enhancing officer safety, and better protecting the communities they serve.

As a former NYPD Lieutenant Commander of Detectives, I have conducted hundreds of investigations, many with the help of license plate recognition (LPR) technology. And every time the topic of LPR comes up, people inevitably want to talk about the cameras. Maybe that’s because the cameras can easily be seen and touched. But, in reality, the real power is in the LPR data.

Cameras Capture Data and Data Helps Solve Crimes

The camera serves a twofold, specific, and targeted purpose: to capture anonymous, publicly available license plate data, and send alerts to a police car. Here’s how that data capture works:

  • The cameras take pictures of the plates required by law to be visible in public.
  • The software reads the characters on the plate and notes the date, time and location of the image capture.
  • No personal data is collected and access to the data is governed by a strong federal law called the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). 

It is what goes on behind the scenes after the data is captured that makes LPR such a valuable tool for law enforcement. That’s when the data becomes more than just data; it’s when the data becomes vehicle location intelligence, valuable to law enforcement in three important ways:

  1. Analytics
  2. Prediction
  3. Real-time alerts

Time and again, I have seen how vehicle location intelligence helps law enforcement develop leads, solve crimes, and stay safe on the job.

Analytics Power the Data

How? Through powerful analytical capabilities that enable agencies to develop leads and solve crimes quicker and more efficiently. For example, partial plate searches, as well as being able to filter by year, make, model, time, date, and location enable law enforcement to quickly verify what license plates were scanned in the area around a set of crime scenes. This provides more than a simple dump of scans from a camera — it provides actionable, workable intelligence.

From there, agencies can analyze and identify a plate or plates common to multiple crime scenes. In a matter of minutes, one officer sitting at his desk can identify a potential lead in a pattern or serial crime simply by analyzing historical vehicle location data or detections.

Once a plate or vehicle of interest is identified, the same historical data can help investigators predict where that vehicle can be found.
Once a plate or vehicle of interest is identified, the same historical data can help investigators predict where that vehicle can be found.

Sample Case: Take for example, the case of a hit and run involving a 9-year old girl who was holding her mother’s hand as they crossed the street. The child was struck by a sport-utility vehicle. The police had a general description of the vehicle and a partial plate. They performed a partial plate search of the LPR data and identified a suspect plate through the search. They then took that suspect plate and searched Vigilant Solution’s Commercial LPR data and shared LPR data from neighboring agencies. The search returned images of the suspect vehicle. The mother and eyewitnesses can then confirm that it was in fact the vehicle that struck the girl.

Predictive Intelligence Is Better than Guessing

Once a plate or vehicle of interest is identified, the same historical data can help investigators predict where that vehicle can be found. By looking back at previous scans and scoring methodology, they can identify a set of locations where the vehicle is most likely to be, and even give investigators the location type (residence, business, etc.). They can even compare how many times a vehicle has been “seen” versus the number of times an LPR unit scanned at that location for a percentage seen; essentially reporting a canvass “seen” rate. Again, this allowed further development of vehicle location intelligence for investigators, while maximizing resources. All thanks to the power of the data.

Real-Time Alerts Improve Situational Awareness

Now let’s go one step further into this hypothetical investigation. Investigators have identified the vehicle and the locations where the vehicle is most likely to be found. Investigators now have probable cause to add the license plate to a hotlist of vehicles of interest. Upon sending officers to the suspect’s likely residence and work place, the vehicle isn’t there, but officers are posted to wait for its return.

At the same time, a patrol officer across town or even an officer across the state, gets a real-time alert as they pass the vehicle of interest on a hotlist at a shopping mall. With permissible purpose to access DMV records and determine the owner of the vehicle under the Driver Privacy Protection Act, the officer is able to determine the driver has a history of violence and aggression. This real-time intelligence leads to a call for backup, and officers apprehend the person of interest without incident, and turn the suspect over to the investigating officers.

All of the vehicle location intelligence in the scenario, from identification to location prediction and real-time situational intelligence for officers, would only be possible thanks to data, not just a camera. Agencies that understand the investigative power of vehicle location intelligence are generating more leads, solving more crimes, apprehending more violent offenders, enhancing officer safety, and better protecting the communities they serve. In the end, that’s what it all about.

Learn more about data-driven investigations and get the eBook: LPR Beyond the Lens: Challenging Times for Agencies Call for Strategic Solutions


Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine