What You Should Know About License Plate Reading Cameras

joliet criminal attorneyOne of the newer weapons in the arsenal of Illinois law enforcement is the license plate reading camera, which police departments are using to identify the vehicles of people who may be subject to criminal charges.

In 2018, Illinois cities such as Rockford and Chicago have expanded their use of these mobile license plate reading cameras, and Illinois residents should be aware of how this technology may affect them.

How Mobile License Plate Reading Cameras Work

The Rockford license plate camera system is described as follows:

  • Computer-controlled cameras are installed on the roof of several city police cars.
  • The cameras automatically snap photos of vehicle license plates as the squad cars drive down the street, including the plates of parked cars, as well as cars driving in front of or passing by the police cars. The vehicles’ location, date, and time are attached to the images for future reference.
  • Image and character recognition software converts the pictures into license plate numbers in text format.
  • The images and plate numbers are displayed on computer screens in the squad cars. The plate numbers are instantly checked against state and national law enforcement databases, and if a vehicle is on a “wanted” list anywhere, the computer sounds an alert.
  • The system retains the camera-captured data for 90 days, unless it is pulled and saved for use in a criminal prosecution.

How Police Use License Plate Reading Cameras

Rockford police say their system recorded about 234,000 plates in the past year and generated over 1,400 “wanted” alerts. They claim it has been effective in identifying and recovering stolen vehicles, as well as in locating vehicle owners wanted by the police.

Chicago police have used license plate cameras to fight a rise in carjackings that has occurred over the past few years. From January 1 to May 31, 2018, Chicago reported 297 carjackings, or roughly two per day. The use of plate-recognition cameras to more quickly identify stolen vehicles is improving the police department’s ability to identify the perpetrators.

While some critics claim such systems are an invasion of privacy, law enforcement leaders say that high-tech tools are a cost-effective way to fight crime and increase police officer productivity.

In addition to deploying more mobile plate scanners, cities around Chicago are also upgrading their stationary surveillance cameras at key intersections, so that they can produce images that are sharp enough to read license plates.

Consult an Aggressive Will County Defense Attorney

New technology is making it easier for police to identify, locate, and arrest those who have been accused of crimes. If you have been arrested in Will County, you should exercise your rights to remain silent and to be represented by an attorney. Talk to an experienced Joliet criminal defense lawyer before you say anything to the police. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a no-cost review of your case.

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