Local Law Enforcement Testing New Tools

Posted at: 10/30/2012 6:42 PM
Updated at: 10/30/2012 7:33 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 News) -- It turns work that would take minutes, into seconds. The Olmsted County Sheriff’s department is testing out a new tool that can scan hundreds of license plates at a time.

They’re hoping this tool will help them in more way than one. The sheriff’s department has four squad cars with the new toys.

"It actually reads numbers and letters and then it takes that combination and runs them through a database," said Captain Waletski.

They are called ALPR's or automatic license plate readers.

"Anything that we would run manually will come up here automatically."

The ALPR works with four cameras on top of the car that can read any license plate surrounding it. The plate is entered into a database and if there is a violation it will come up instantly.

"It picks up any driving record violations like revoked license, warrants, cops alerts, amber alerts."

The alerts are ranked as high, medium, and low. The squad cars could scan all of the license plates in a parking lot in simply the time it takes to drive through it.

"I've done a parking lot, 900 vehicles in 15 minutes," said Captain Waletski.

The device doesn't just help with violations, in the case of an amber alert it could save a life.

"If an amber alert was put out on a plate and the officers driving down the road, then it's going to say high alert and it's going to show that amber alert on the screen," said Cpt. Waletski.

The $18,000 a piece ALPR's were paid for through a grant. As long as you are following the law, your plate shouldn't even come up.

"It only shows data on the screen if there is a problem."

The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Department is just testing the devices out. Later they will decide if they are worth purchasing more.
Several departments in the Twin Cities are already using the ALPR’s.