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By Tabatha Wethal LPR units act as mechanical eyes on the road Plate spotting S teven Hedley says he didn’t even see the truck that night. It was pitch black, and he and his Hedley says. “If I did not have the LPR that night, I can only imagine, knowing what I know now, what Task Force was used too. The new system, the Mobile Plate Hunter-900 from ELSAG North partner were two among a few hun- could have happened to those girls.” America, uses infrared cameras, dred officers spread throughout the which scan for and capture images City of Atlanta, patrolling as part The technology at work of characters on plates. The process- of a detail night with the Atlanta ELSAG’s license plate reader ing unit and software reference the Police Department in Georgia. The system doesn’t just read auto- information collected by the camera pair was on their way to a road mated plates; its name declares it against preloaded hotlists and sends block when an electronic beep reg- “hunts” them. automatic alerts when flagged plates istered a passing vehicle tag as a law Some license plate reader (LPR) are recognized. enforcement-flagged plate. proponents would go further to “It all starts with the all-seeing The truck, indicated as a car- personify the technology as an offi- eye: That officer on the back of the jacked vehicle, was carrying five cer itself, constantly surveying for car that never stops looking and passengers, though Hedley and his tags, but removed from human ele- [has] the ability of running dozens partner, Ilka Torres, didn’t know it ments like fatigue and distraction. and dozens of tags every minute,” at the time. It sure beat the manual survey and says Hedley. “You never know what that car hard-copy hotlist reference method Once the LPR unit identifies a that you’re passing is wanted for,” Hedley and the Atlanta Auto Theft vehicle of interest, officers take the 48 Law Enforcement Technology ■ April 2009 ■ www.officer.com In our line of work, lives are on the line. When our equipment fails, so do we. That’s why we need more than just a product. We need a software company who will be there for us, no matter what. We need a partner. We’ve found that partner in EmergiTech. EmergiTech’s products and behind the scenes support help technical element out of it and implement the human us stay focused on the business of element, rerunning the registration and making sure the ghting crime and saving lives. vehicle is still of interest; still listed as stolen, for example. In October 2006, when the LPR unit alerted Hedley and his partner to the hot vehicle, Hedley was still test- ing the technology o
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