By David Roberts, Senior Program Manager, IACP Technology Center
Law enforcement agencies throughout the nation are increasingly adopting automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technologies to enhance their enforcement and investigative capabilities, expand their collection of relevant data, and expedite the tedious process of manually comparing vehicle license plates with lists of stolen, wanted, and other vehicles of interest. ALPR systems function to automatically capture an image of the vehicle’s license plate, transform that image into alphanumeric characters, compare the plate number acquired to one or more databases of vehicles of interest, and alert the officer when a vehicle of interest has been observed, all within a matter of seconds.
IACP conducted research sponsored by the National Institute of Justice regarding ALPR implementation among law enforcement agencies and has just released the final report from the study. The report, Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) Systems: Policy and Operational Guidance for Law Enforcement, is now available online (PDF, 4MB).
ALPR technology is a significant tool in the arsenal of law enforcement and public safety agencies. Realizing the core business values that ALPR promises, however, can only be achieved through proper planning, implementation, training, deployment, use, and management of the technology and the information it provides. Like all tools and technologies available to law enforcement, ALPR must also be carefully managed. Policies must be developed and strictly enforced to ensure the quality of the data, the security of the system, compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and the privacy of information gathered.