License plate readers

Discussion in 'Freedom and Liberty' started by tulianr, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    An armed robber burst into a Northeast Washington market, scuffled with the cashier, and then shot him and the clerk’s father, who also owned the store. The killer sped off in a silver Pontiac, but a witness was able to write down the license plate number.

    Police figured out the name of the suspect very quickly. But locating and arresting him took a little-known investigative tool: a vast system that tracks the comings and goings of anyone driving around the District.

    Scores of cameras across the city capture 1,800 images a minute and download the information into a rapidly expanding archive that can pinpoint people’s movements all over town.

    Police entered the suspect’s license plate number into that database and learned that the Pontiac was on a street in Southeast. Police soon arrested Christian Taylor, who had been staying at a friend’s home, and charged him with two counts of first-degree murder.

    More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time, helping police pinpoint stolen cars and fleeing killers. But the program quietly has expanded beyond what anyone had imagined even a few years ago.

    With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles.

    Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the District, which has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation.

    Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well, and local agencies plan to add many more in coming months, creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District.

    Police say the tag readers can give them a critical jump on a child abductor, information about when a vehicle left — or entered — a crime scene, and the ability to quickly identify a suspected terrorist’s vehicle as it speeds down the highway, perhaps to an intended target.

    Having the technology during the Washington area sniper shootings in 2002 might have stopped the attacks sooner, detectives said, because police could have checked whether any particular car was showing up at each of the shooting sites.

    “It’s a perfect example of how they’d be useful,” said Lt. T.J. Rogers, who is responsible for the 26 tag readers maintained by the Fairfax County police. “We see a lot of potential in it.”

    Police can also plug any license plate number into the database and, as long as it passed a camera, determine where that vehicle has been and when. Detectives also can enter a be-on-the-lookout into the database, and the moment that license plate passes a detector, they get an alert.

    It’s that precision and the growing ubiquity of the technology that has libertarians worried. In Northern Virginia recently, a man reported his wife missing, prompting police to enter her plate number into the system.
    They got a hit at an apartment complex, and when they got there, officers spotted her car and a note on her windshield that said, in essence, “Don’t tow, I’m visiting apartment 3C.” Officers knocked on the door of that apartment, and she came out of the bedroom. They advised her to call her husband.

    A new tool in the arsenal
    License plate readers can capture numbers across four lanes of traffic on cars zooming up to 150 mph.

    Police also have begun using them as a tool to prevent crime. By positioning them in nightclub parking lots, for example, police can collect information about who is there. If members of rival gangs appear at a club, police can send patrol cars there to squelch any flare-ups before they turn violent. After a crime, police can gather a list of potential witnesses in seconds.

    “It’s such a valuable tool, it’s hard not to jump on it and explore all the things it can do for law enforcement,” said Kevin Davis, assistant chief of police in Prince George’s County.

    Finding stolen cars faster
    The technology first came to the Washington region in 2004 as a pilot program. During an early test, members of the Washington Area Vehicle Enforcement Unit recovered eight cars, found 12 stolen license plates and made three arrests in a single shift. Prince George’s police bought several units to help combat the county’s crippling car theft and carjacking problem. It worked.

    “We recover cars very quickly now. In previous times that was not the case,” said Prince George’s Capt. Edward Davey, who is in charge of the county’s program. “Before, they’d be dumped on the side of the road somewhere for a while.”

    Arlington police cars equipped with the readers regularly drive through the parking garage at the Pentagon City mall looking for stolen cars, checking hundreds of them in a matter of minutes as they cruise up and down the aisles. In Prince William County, where there are 12 mobile readers, the units have been used to locate missing people and recover stolen cars.

    Virginia State Police have 42 units for the entire state, most of them focused on Northern Virginia, Richmond and the Tidewater area, and as of now have no fixed locations. But the state police are looking into fixed locations that could capture as many as 100 times more vehicles, 24 hours a day, with the potential to blanket the interstates.

    Beyond the technology’s ability to track suspects and non-criminals alike, it has expanded beyond police work. Tax collectors in Arlington bought their own units and use the readers to help collect money owed to the county. Chesterfield County, in Virginia, uses a reader it purchased to collect millions of dollars in delinquent car taxes each year, comparing the cars on the road against the tax rolls.

    Police across the region say that they are careful with the information and that they are entrusted with many pieces of sensitive information about citizens, including arrest records and Social Security numbers.

    “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re not driving a stolen car, you’re not committing a crime,” Alessi said, “then you don’t have anything to worry about.”
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    A mixed "blessing" to TPTB. I hate it.
  3. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    and next will come facial recognition and a database that keeps track of ll of us
    everywhere we go, who we see, what we do
    gee obammy, can i pee in private?
    Sapper John and Gator 45/70 like this.
  4. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    nothing a little injection can't fix.

    SQL Injection
  5. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Not an issue around here..... We do NOT have License Plates.... OR local Law Enforcement... ..... YMMV... and probably Does...
    Cephus likes this.
  6. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    This is ****ling great; we can put them out side synagogues and follow the Jews home the next time we decide to exterminate them!
    The potential for miss-use of this is so great that I cannot even believe that we are not rioting in the streets to stop this madness.
    Cephus and Pax Mentis like this.
  7. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    maybe we should all wear towels on our heads and confuse the
    tacmotusn and Gator 45/70 like this.
  8. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    They are already using them at the borders and stop light cameras.

    Britain use them for ensuring that people pay the congestion charges when entering major metro areas like London.

    Just another use of a technology that has been repurposed to 'protect us' that can be used to track us.

  9. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Then there are the toll gate cameras. Dunno if they have recognition involved, but they DO find you ---
    Cephus likes this.
  10. Sapper John

    Sapper John Analog Monkey in a Digital World

    And yet, the crime rate continues to climb...Irony,it's whats for breakfast.
    tulianr, Gator 45/70 and Opinionated like this.
  11. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    cant stop low level crime until high level is cleaned up
    why should anyonelse be honest when our govt isnt?
  12. Gunny Highway

    Gunny Highway Hard Work and Sacrifice blessed by God's Grace

    you know that laws don't apply to IMPORTANT people like them right ? Only us non-important people..... (sic)
    Sapper John likes this.
  13. Bob Anderson

    Bob Anderson Monkey+

  14. goinpostal

    goinpostal Monkey+++

    There are tag covers out that make a tag unreadabe if you are not directly behind the vehicle.
    I wonder how long it takes before theres a report of some people having a paintball rally?
    I could certainly see the street racers doing such.
  15. Sapper John

    Sapper John Analog Monkey in a Digital World

    Those have been outlawed in NC. Now it is illegal to have anything on or over your license plate that will obstruct it.
  16. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    I can foresee that the getaway mode of transport

    of the future will look like this.......


    no number plates to tag!
  17. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Au contraire mon frere. The government want to tag or chip all of our animals through their back door NAIS legislation and rule making.
    Gator 45/70 and Sapper John like this.
  18. Cephus

    Cephus Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Look on the bridge structures the next time ya cross one ,I'll bet ya can find !!!
  19. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    you know those little green Canadian lasers that will pop a balloon? The one that you can buy on e-bay for a few bucks? They'll light matches across a room; wanna see what one will do to a video surveillance camera diode?
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  20. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Apparently the FDA has stepped in and mandated that you cannot sell those hot little lasers any more but you can still take the diode out of a CD burner and mount it in a mini-mag light.
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