A Midwest police department that deployed Vigilant's license plate recognition (LPR) in a sobriety checkpoint operation reports improved officer safety and efficiency, as well as 28 enforcement actions for offenses including drug possession and operating while intoxicated, among others. The agency has asked not to be named in the release but is willing to speak to other law enforcement agencies about its experiences with the system.
A sergeant at the agency comments, "We've had the license plate reader (LPR) system from Vigilant Solutions for roughly six months and it is proving to be a valuable tool on many fronts. One such use is at sobriety checkpoints. As an example, we recently set up a checkpoint selected as the result of a traffic study."
License plate readers (LPR) use a camera system that takes pictures of license plates, and uses optical character recognition (OCR) to convert the image into text that the LPR system software can check against law enforcement databases. The system does not look up information on individuals – it only sees the letters and numbers on the plate. So each plate, quite simply, is read and compared to the law enforcement databases. If there is a match, then the officer visually confirms the match and follows agency policy regarding proper patrol response.
The sergeant continued, "At 10:20 p.m., after training everyone and setting up the location, we began directing six vehicles at a time into the checkpoint. When the checkpoint was full, we allowed vehicles to pass by the checkpoint so as not to disrupt traffic, and to minimize wait times for drivers. The LPR system read the plates passing through the checkpoint and compared them against a number of law enforcement databases. This served both an officer safety role, and improved the effectiveness of our checkpoint by calling attention to vehicles that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. The LPR system ensures fair and consistent enforcement, as it only sees the characters of the license plate – not the type or condition of the vehicle, nor the driver. The system also allowed us to scan all vehicles allowed to bypass the checkpoint against the same databases, so that – in the event of a hit – we could notify a patrol car downstream of the checkpoint to stop the vehicle.
"We ended the checkpoint at 2:35 a.m., at which point it was tallied that we had encountered 488 vehicles through the checkpoint, and over 1,000 others that bypassed the checkpoint but were still checked because we had the LPR system. This four-hour operation resulted in 28 enforcement actions. The enforcement actions included 22 of the vehicles being towed, as well as a number of arrests including drug related offenses including possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia, operating while intoxicated, driving while suspended, unlicensed drivers, expired plates, and warrants," said the sergeant.
"We are pleased to hear that this agency is enjoying the use of its system and realizing the benefits," explains Tom Joyce, Vice President of Business Development at Vigilant Solutions. "As the sergeant explained, LPR cameras are an extra set of eyes in the field that greatly enhance the efficiency and safety of officers in the field. In today's environment, officers need and deserve these mission critical tools."
For more information, visit www.vigilantsolutions.com.