Long Beach Police Department demonstrating the MPR
Barry Tech Police Science: Parking lot: Many bleeps sounded inside the Long Beach police cruiser as Sgt. Dodge pulled into the lot. The pace of the bleeps quickened when he passed the first row of cars in the lot. Dodge passed dozens of cars before the bleeps gave way to an alarm, then a robotic voice told him about a parked car whose registered driver has a suspended license. This was only a test car which the Sgt entered to cause the alarm. "It just did in 30 seconds what usually takes an officer an entire day," he said.
The Long Beach Police Department is among a growing number of law enforcement agencies nationwide using the roof-mounted license plate reader, known as the Mobile Plate Hunter. At least 18 police departments on Long Island, including Nassau County and Suffolk County police, use readers, which cost about $22,000, said North Carolina-based manufacturer Remington ELSAG. More than 220 departments use it nationwide, the company said.
The electronic bleeps and alarms are emitted from the reader when the two infrared cameras scan license plates at a rate of between 15 to 25 per second, the company said. Images of those plate numbers are sent to a database in the car trunk and compared to a digital list of vehicles wanted for various crimes, traffic violations, reported stolen cars and vehicles linked to Amber Alerts for kidnapped children, authorities said. The infrared cameras, which work like supermarket scanners, can record plates of moving or stopped cars.
Driving is a privilege, not a fundamental right, Dodge said, adding that officers have always recorded plate numbers for investigations. The reader, he said, makes that work easier.
Since implementing the device in January, Long Beach police receive about 40 alerts daily for potentially stolen cars and suspended or revoked licenses. Before the reader, there were just a few a day, Dodge said.
Primary uses of the reader vary from each department. In Arizona, Gov. Janet Napolitano said the device is helping to combat human trafficking. Because smugglers often use stolen cars, cruisers equipped with readers at the Mexico-Arizona border can help break up trafficking rings.Author: GolodLength: