This past spring, the Windsor Police Department received grant funds to purchase license plate reader (LPR) technology to provide added capabilities while our officers patrol Windsor. In the near future, Windsor PD will begin utilizing the LPR units that were installed on two marked police SUV’s, one for deployment in the northern half of town and one in the southern half of town. Each Police SUV will have 2 LPR cameras mounted on the exterior of the SUV cruiser. While the officer is patrolling, the LPR works by scanning license plates that travel on the town’s roads. These plates are then compared against a stored list of license plate values. This list is referred to as a “hot list” that is maintained and updated daily by the CT State Police.
This “hot list” contains license plate values that are associated with vehicles having significance to law enforcement, such as:
- stolen vehicles
- vehicles associated with missing persons
- vehicles associated with AMBER / SILVER Alerts
- vehicles reasonably believed to be involved with criminal activity.
When the LPR system registers a ‘hit’, the software running on the SUV’s laptop will alert the officer of the ‘hit’. The officer must verify that the ‘hit’ is current using other law enforcement databases prior to taking any enforcement action. Once the ‘hit’ is verified, the officer can conduct a motor vehicle stop to investigate further.
LPR technology brings with it the concern of privacy that the Windsor Police Department takes seriously. The police department has entered into an agreement with the CT State Police (CSP) to utilize their LPR database to work with our LPR systems. With this agreement:
- Windsor Police Department will not store or retain any LPR data on site
- CT State Police purges stored data from the LPR system 90 days after it has been stored
Purging data after 90 days alleviates many of the concerns regarding privacy that are related to LPR systems. The LPR system along with access to all law enforcement databases have safeguards in place to ensure the system is used appropriately with strict oversight and accountability.
The LPR system will assist the Windsor Police Department to combat current crime trends such as:
- vehicle burglaries and stolen vehicles that are often committed by juveniles
- identifying unregistered and uninsured vehicles.
The department was able to use grant funds to assist in purchasing the LPR system. In choosing the appropriate system for deployment, infrastructure and long term costs were taken into consideration. The system chosen allows the department to forgo most infrastructure costs by entering into an agreement with the CT State Police (CSP) to utilize their database and computer systems for the system infrastructure. With this agreement, CSP agrees to maintain the infrastructure and allow our department’s LPRs to access the system at no cost.