Friday, April 1, 2011
Amherst Police Department scored yet another major grant , $18,945, for a cruiser mounted high-tech gizmo that automatically scans 1,000 license plates per hour flagging unregistered or stolen vehicles, AMBER alert targets in flight or cars registered to drivers with revoked licenses, a common penalty for drunk drivers.
The computerized camera/internet system, known as ALPR (Automated License Plate Recognition), combines the power of optical character recognition and face recognition common on digital cameras but geared toward high speed capture and analysis of license plates.
Thus an officer can automatically do real time plate processing, effortlessly, in high-volume with a highly accurate system that never discriminates against race, creed, color, gender or religion.
And unlike the current controversy in South Carolina, where a small town uses radar cameras to issue a plethora of expensive speeding tickets, the results produced by ALPR involve potentially more serious infractions.
APD was only the second police department to receive state accreditation 12 years ago and has been recertified every 3 years since. This achievement weighs in their favor when applying for government grants. Recently they have snagged an Underage Alcohol Grant, You Drink you Drive you Lose Grant, Car seat Grant, a very large Domestic Violence Grant ($175,000 shared with UMass PD), and now this ALPR grant.
Conspiracy theorists may whine about "Big Brother," but it will always be a flesh-and-blood, highly trained officer who interacts with drivers stopped because something was amiss, possibly preventing harm to innocent citizens--as well as the responding officers.
The system will be operational in July.
Long Beach PD demos the system