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Mobile license plate scanners on the way

ALBANY — In Philadelphia, they’ve helped stem a growing tide of car thefts. In New York, they’ve helped police recover hundreds of stolen cars, nab wanted suspects and detain persons of interest in various crimes.

And soon, they’ll be watching you ride down the streets of Albany.

The Albany City Commission approved the purchase Tuesday of four mobile license plate scanners that will be mounted onto police cars and sent out into the community to help catch criminals.

For the police department, the scanners represent another weapon in an increasingly high-tech arsenal of tools meant to multiply the effect of the limited police officers on the ground.

For the Albany City Commission, they’re a way to deal with the high number of suspects who are wanted by police but have yet to be captured while increasing revenues from tickets, fines, fees and forfeitures.

“There’s no way that an officer can physically check every vehicle to make sure that it hasn’t been stolen or that it doesn’t belong to someone who is wanted,” Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said. “This is something that actively scans license plates as the officers are riding down the street, and if it comes across one that is believed to have an expired tag, or maybe have an outstanding warrant, the officer can initiate a traffic stop and find out more about the situation.”

The scanners are being used across the country at departments big and small to help departments stretch their resources beyond those that physical officers can handle.

In Buffalo, N.Y., the police department has put together a promotional video showing how the devices have helped them monitor one of the country’s largest gateways into Canada by scanning the tags of incoming vehicles.

The scanners don’t come without concerns, however.

In the tiny town of Glen Cove, N.Y., Police Chief William Whitton has recently had to defend his purchase of the devices to the community, which feel its a little too “big brother” for them.

“We’re only interested in getting those people who shouldn’t be out on the streets off the streets,” Smith said.

If Tuesday’s vote is ratified by the commission later this month, the police department will purchase four of the units from Virginia-based DRS Technical Services for a total of $87,758.

Comments

VSU 2 years, 5 months ago

Hopefully this will work and help capture some of these elusive criminals and even people driving with suspended license and no insurance if they happen to have a stolen car tag on their car. But we'll see. I think Cordele or Crisp County was using something like this and they say it has helped them.

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waltspecht 2 years, 5 months ago

Great, we should see a huge increase in suspended license and insurance cases, then a vast drop off. Hopefully the local communities surrounding Albany will follow suit. This should go a long way to handling a large problem that exists in this area. At least until folks start buying those shields that I am sure we will see on sale shortly. You know, just like the ones that defeat the Laser Sped detector. I only hope there is a harshly written statute on the way to heavily fine, and jail folks that try to go that route.

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waltspecht 2 years, 5 months ago

It just hit me, The Insurance Institute, or the individual Insurance Companies should provide grant funding for these scanners. Afterall, it would have a direct affect on their bottom line. Floks would be insured, or they wouldn't drive. Plus the quick recovery of stolen vehicles, no more driving a stolen car for a day or two before it reaches a hot sheet. No more relying on Officers memories to pick up plates driving by. Just think of the reduction in Uninsured Motorist accidents. Whether you think it is George Orwellian, or whatever, I look at it as a tool to combat a serious problem that has long pleagued our State and local area.. Plus, as often happens in the area, the Officer couldn't let a friend or relative slide, because it would be a recorded documented hit. I for one will love it, as should any of you that have ever been in an accident with an uninsured vehicle.when you have kept up your insurance.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 5 months ago

Next we will have widescreen TV's with Big Brother's picture on it, 24-hour per day propoganda broadcasts, and oh by the way the screens will have video cameras so people working for the gov't can monitor your every move and come and get you if you do anything "subversive". Read George Orwell's book "1984".

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reb_arty1863 2 years, 5 months ago

I hope they come out with a spray that will fol these intrusive scanners.

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waltspecht 2 years, 5 months ago

Why? you running illegal and putting the rest of us at risk?

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MRKIA 2 years, 5 months ago

FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND THIS TECHNOLOGY WILL ONLY ALERT TO BOLO INFORMATION VIA HOTSHEET DATA SUPPLIED BY THE AGENCY USING IT. YES IT WILL RECORD EVERY PLATE IT "SEES" BUT WILL NOT ALERT WITHOUT THE DATA TO TELL IT WHICH PLATE OR PARTIAL PLATE TO HIT ON. THE AGENCY UPDATES IT'S HOTSHEET AS NEEDED AND THESE CAMERAS CONSTANTLY LOOK FOR IT. THE AGENCY CAN ALSO GO BACK AND DETERMINE IF CAMERAS HAVE SPOTTED A PLATE IN THE PAST AND THE LOCATION AS WELL. UNLESS THERE IS SOME PROTOCOL ESTABLISHED TO DUMP THE INFORMATION THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A RECORD OF THE PUBLIC'S MOVEMENT. TOO BIG BROTHER FOR ME. ANOTHER BABY STEP.....

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 5 months ago

A future fascist (in the BHO mould) will use it to seize absolute power and, like Hitler, take over with the approval of the 55% who live off the Government Handout Ministry. A solid Prophesy from a Major Prophetess. Mark it down.

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Cartman 2 years, 5 months ago

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 5 months ago

You know what I am talkin about Cartman! "Those who are uneducated about the Past are condemned to repeat it in the Future!!"

Seriously...every time a Democrat is elected President, I re-read "1984" and "Brave New World" and then hunker down and PRAY for GOD to SPARE US from OUR STUPIDITY!!!

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reb_arty1863 2 years, 5 months ago

what is next oh "keyboard cowboy Walt"? A scanner to see what brand underwear I am wearing? We should not even have to have a crappy piece of over priced tin on the back of vehichles. The next government intrusion will be taxing internet access.

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waltspecht 2 years, 5 months ago

I don't know, have you allowed legislators to be elected that may pass a law regarding underwear brand choice? What I am saying, it is already against the law to steal a car, drive without insurance or registration, drive on a suspended license. The police already catch too many folks doing these things. They continue to do it because they do not fear getting caught. So why not use technology to catch them all, and get them off the roads?

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