TORONTO - City Police have attained more equipment to help in the fight against crime - a mobile license plate reader system.
The system, which includes two cameras mounted to the back of a cruiser and a software program loaded into the car's mobile computer, automatically scans the license plates of every vehicle near the cruiser, according to Patrolman Tony Porreca.
"The system consists of two video cameras and software," said Porreca, adding the system was attained through a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. "So far, we have one attached to my cruiser. The camera and software scan vehicles' license plates coming toward the cruiser, moving away from the cruiser or parked."
The date then is collected by the software program, which logs when the plate was read as well as how many times the cruiser has passed the plate, Porreca said. The system even takes photos of passing vehicles, he added.
"It uses an infrared beam from the camera to read the plates," he continued, adding the system captures data and stores it. "The system can read license plates on any vehicle moving from zero to 140 miles per hour. That's day or night and in any kind of weather."
Porreca said he wanted to assure citizens the system "isn't meant to catch speeders or be big brother." He said the system will help law enforcement track suspects' vehicles or persons who may be wanted or involved in criminal activity. The system also alerts police to any stolen vehicles or those involved in a crime, said Porreca. The system also could be used in search-and-rescue scenarios, the kidnapping of a child or gathering information on vehicles in the vicinity of a recent crime, he added.
"It could be a big help in an Amber Alert situation," Porreca said. "It gives us the ability to go back into the system and search for license plates."
The system also gives police an edge when approaching vehicles - a big safety issue for officers, Porreca said.
"The system always is on, so this could help us during an investigation by tracking vehicles," he said. "It's like having an extra set of eyes in the vehicle."
Porreca thanked Chief Randy Henry for pursuing new avenues and technology for fighting crime in the Gem City.
"Thanks to a supportive administration and a chief who's taking a pro-active approach in law enforcement, we were able to obtain this equipment," he said.