Scottsdale police want the technology to take pictures of up to 1,000 license plates an hour in an effort to be immediately alerted to cars that are stolen or identified in Amber Alerts or terrorism investigations.
The main intent of Scottsdale’s request for a new automatic license plate recognition system is stolen cars, Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said, although the city is looking for a system that will match the plates of “vehicles of interest” against other databases.
The department is seeking to initially purchase four automated license plate recognition systems, which will scan license plates within range of the patrol vehicle without any action by the patrol officers. If there’s a hit, the officers are immediately notified and can then run the plate, Clark said. The data collected could also be used during a subsequent investigation, Clark said.
The standard vehicle will have two cameras facing forward and two in the rear to read the license plates of opposing traffic, states the city’s proposal seeking equipment providers. Clark said all scanned information will be stored in an internal database, including the license plate image and number, vehicle color, date and time stamp, and Global Positioning System location. Procedures and policies have not yet been established, but the thought is the information will be stored for 30 days, he said.
The department recognizes there could be some concern from residents about their information being recorded by police, but there are no pictures taken of the person driving the car, and the information is not given out to private investigators or others, Clark said.
“It’s something officers do all the time anyway, it’s just increasing their ability to do it faster,” he said.
Scottsdale police recovered more than 500 stolen cars in the city last year.
The proposal also states that the system will help with homeland security by increasing the department’s ability to detect vehicles wanted in terrorism investigations.
The Tempe Police Department has used similar equipment for about a year. Tempe police Sgt. Mike Horn said that since Jan. 1, the department’s two systems have read 119,000 license plates, recovered 15 stolen vehicles and led to two arrests.
“It’s instantaneous, and it’s a fantastic tool for law enforcement, specifically in Arizona, where for the last several years we’ve been near the top in the nation for auto thefts,” Horn said.
Interested vendors must submit their proposals to Scottsdale by Aug. 29. The city plans to use state and federal funds to pay for the equipment.