Automatic License Plate Reader, Mounted on Cop Car

Automatic License Plate Reader, Mounted on Cop Car

This is a discussion on Automatic License Plate Reader, Mounted on Cop Car within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; So, I'm here visiting my grandmother in the beautiful state of West Virginia. I woke up early and decided to go out for coffee and ...

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Thread: Automatic License Plate Reader, Mounted on Cop Car

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    VIP Member Array blitzburgh's Avatar
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    Automatic License Plate Reader, Mounted on Cop Car

    So, I'm here visiting my grandmother in the beautiful state of West Virginia. I woke up early and decided to go out for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Afterwards, I crossed the street and hit up the gas station to grab a pack of smokes and top off the tank. On my way from the pump to head inside, there was a county cop car with these three weird looking but obvious cameras of sorts mounted on the trunk. I stopped and was looking at them while the LEO came outside and said "Those are cameras that automatically read the license plate of any car I pass or happens to pass me or ride behind me and let's me see their information". I said "Oh really, I guess big brothers everywhere now, huh?" and he didn't reply.

    Now I really don't see how this is legal. A car could pass the officer and the vehicle's owner information automatically comes up. Say he has a prior arrest for a drug related crime (or other offense(s), said LEO could then just pull him over to fish. Seems a lot like profiling to me and opens the door to one big can of worms, IMO.

    This is the first time I've EVER seen these cameras mounted on a police car. Perhaps I'm behind, but has anybody else seen these? Does anybody feel these cameras are wrong?
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    Member Array Ionracas's Avatar
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    I dont know the exact information it pulls up but I think its more specific to the vehicle or tags i.e: stolen, unpaid tickets on that plate, etc. There could be much more though.

    Here in Shelby County almost every single Memphis PD car has a large camera mounted to the roof. We dont have front license plates so these are forward looking. They are also on some of the State and Sherriff traffic division vehicles (unmarked, tricked out Chevy Tahoes). I would be willing to guess that the cameras in my area do a lot more than read plates though. They are much bigger than the ones you describe (Ive seen them before). They can rotate and point up and down so they may serve as a standard camera too.
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    VIP Member Array Brad426's Avatar
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    West Virginia is always on the cutting edge of technology.

    I would assume normal probable cause standards would apply, but there probably would be a fishing expedition or two. Doesn't really change the fact that a cop could run a plate and get the info the old fashioned way and then profile, so as far as legality goes I doubt there is any issue.
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    Our town has had the camera car for a few years now,its about the only way the police here are able to find stolen cars.
    The cop just drives around parking lots and the camera system does the work.
    I do not feel they are wrong,just lazy.
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    That's how they were positioned.
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    VIP Member Array blitzburgh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad426 View Post
    West Virginia is always on the cutting edge of technology.

    I would assume normal probable cause standards would apply, but there probably would be a fishing expedition or two.
    I can't really really agree or disagree far as WV, it's been a while since I've regularly been in this area or up to date with what's going on here now that I've been living down south.

    As far as what I bolded, I agree. I wouldn't trust them to just "scan for stolen cars". I'd really like to know what exactly comes up record wise. If one has a prior DUI conviction, you could get automatically stopped because of it, etc. Wonder if having a CWP would show up too?
    "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God." - Benjamin Franklin
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    Distinguished Member Array bigmacque's Avatar
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    All information related to the tag that the camera reads comes up on the screen when it reads a tag. Registered address, owner, make and model of the car, and whether the car or the tag is reported as stolen or has been identified as part of a crime. That's it.
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    Member Array PTAaron's Avatar
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    I think it sounds like a great idea, personally. If my car is stolen and some jerk is driving around in it, and that system identifies the car for an officer - awesome! If it brings up parking tickets and other things tied to the license plate - good! Pay your parking tickets and don't drive stolen cars, and you'll be fine.
    Last edited by Rock and Glock; September 21st, 2012 at 10:33 PM.

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    More and more taxpayer money is spent on the means to arrest more people, yet our jails are over-flowing and the judicial system is rigged to put them right back on the street.

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    We have had these on LEO units for some time now, I saw them on County Sheriff vehicles first where I work at the Courthouse in my County.

    It's basically just another tool for Law Enforcement to aid in getting information about someone, I really don't believe it's Big Brother. I have seen LEO's them drive past me with such equipped vehicles and they barely took notice of me or my driving.
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    Distinguished Member Array bigmacque's Avatar
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    If I'm not mistaken -- and I certainly could be, I have been wrong before and I'm sure I'll be wrong again someday -- but I believe the software that's powering those is coded to flag on a bad tag. In other words if a tag that should be noticed by an officer comes by then the software sounds an alert, flashes on the screen, sends out a coffee/doughnut scent -- does something to get the officers attention. So if tags go by that are not flagged as stolen, etc. then no alert and the cop just keeps driving down the street.

    It would not surprise me to find that these can be set to do work as detailed as determining if a tag registration is out of date as well.
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    Member Array Harvester's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blitzburgh View Post
    Wonder if having a CWP would show up too?
    It depends on how your state's CWP is run, here in Nebraska it is tied to your driver's license and it comes up when they run your license.

    As far as what comes up when they search your plate I found this from a police forum:

    "I can see the registered owners name and address. The year , make , VIN number ,license expiration and any suspensions on the license plate. By default, it also automatically runs the named driver's info. I then see that persons name, address, DOB, drivers number, SSN, height , eye color, expiration date and any suspensions. I cannot initially see WHY the drivers license is suspended without running another check which takes more time and is known as J-Net. J-Net allows me to see a color photo of the driver and a specific view of the driving record as in any inserted violations , reasons for a suspension and duration of said suspension."
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    Senior Member Array Lish's Avatar
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    The sheriff's office in my county has had tag readers for a couple years now - only a handful of vehicles last I knew but I don't know if they've added any over the last couple years. I know here the sheriff's office doesn't have CWP info on their computers - they have to make a separate call for that (I've recently asked) Here there are more tag readers on the side of the road than on the police cars. My only concern with ours is the tags scanned are stored in a database, I'm not sure for how long. Our will also flag is a tag is similar to a stolen tag or warrant or whatever so the deputy can then double check it just in case it was read wrong. When I went on a ride along recently with a friend, when she wasn't on a call she would drive around and everybody she was next to or passed she ran their tags to see if anything popped. She didn't have an auto reader, she typed them in as she drove around. Looking for expired licenses, warrants, stolen, etc - she says she always gets a few that way, although we didn't that night.
    License plate scanners help Polk deputies curb crime | TBO.com

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    op stated in post that he didn't see
    how that would be legal. I can't see
    why it would be otherwise. It isn't
    any different than taking photos in a public
    place.

    I think it is a good idea. I detest
    red light cameras and speed cameras in
    part because there is no human
    in the game. This is different. A live
    person makes the stop and investigates.

    Seems sensible and legal to me.
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    The city I work in next to the town I live in just spent millions on this system to combat the seriously high number of stolen cars and misused license plates

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