The latest technology has made its way to law enforcement vehicles in our region and it is working better than anyone expected.
The LPR, or license plate reader, has made its way onto several police vehicles locally, and it is reaping benefits far beyond its original purpose thanks to officers thinking outside the box.
For police it is a tool that will keep them ahead of any situation involving a vehicle for many years to come.
Tennessee state trooper Robbie Greer has been driving a vehicle that has the LPR system for two years. The vehicle has four cameras that video 360 degrees 24 hours a day. They read license plates then enter them into a database automatically to see if anything is wrong.
"What we are looking for is the worst of the worst," Trooper Greer said. "This system acts as a force multiplier for troopers. We can monitor traffic without taking away from other duties on the highways."
Looking for traffic violators and stolen vehicles is the main focus of the program, but there are several other uses the officers quickly became aware of that were not initially part of the program. "If a missing person has been entered into NCIC as a missing person," Greer added, "they go by us and the system is going to alert us they are in NCIC as a missing person."
Perhaps the most important fringe benefit has come for those who cannot help themselves in a time of extreme danger, the all-too-common Amber Alert. "If there is a suspect vehicle and they happen to go by us before the alert is issued," Greer pointed out. "We can go back and check to see if that tag did go by us, before the Amber Alert came out."
Each system costs several thousand dollars and the cost varies depending on the type of vehicle it is placed in. The highway patrol is adding the systems to more vehicles on an ongoing basis and several local law enforcement agencies are adding them as well.