Second Precinct Expanding Use of Mobile License Plate Scanners

Police use of license plate readers will expand in the Second Precinct, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Thursday.

State Assemblyman Steve Stern, D-Dix Hills, obtained a $250,000 grant that will increase mobile readers, which are installed in police cars. His office said that the grant will increase the number of readers used in the precinct from four  to 19, and that 19 of the 21 sector cars in the Second Precinct will have them.The devices, which are high-speed camera systems that scan license plates, help officers track and respond to crimes, issuing alerts if a passing car matches the plate of a vehicle of interest to investigators.

“Mobile license plate readers are an important invetigative tool that can help officers switfly identify stolencars or card driven by people suspected of being involved ina crime,” Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said. That includes such safety matters concerns as vehicles involved in Amber or Silver stuations. But, he said, police would not be scanning plates en masse or randomly collecting plate  information that would be stored away in archives.

Suffolk Legislator Tom Donnelly and members of the Facebook group Huntington Matters praised the addition of the readers as a valuable tool against crime. “We owe it to our residents to provide our police with every tool possible to assist them,” Donnelly said.

Harrison said the use of the technology would depend on the type of crime. “In one scenario, we’re looking for a vehicle involved in a robbery. A sector car drives by gets a hit on vehicle.Those officers will notified and able to make an arrest,” he said. “The role of the readers and of technology is going to make us a better police department. ”

He said it was important that the technology be used correctly to ensure the trust of the community in the police department. The mobile readers, Harrison said, would be used throughout Huntington, and not focused on a particular neighborhood or area.

A 2018 report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police said of Automatic License Plate  Readers:

Analysis of trial data found that police cars equipped with ALPR technology showed a 140 percent greater ability to detect stolen cars. However, further analysis showed the technology also identified many more lost or stolen plates—as many as four times more—many of which were duplicates that may have desensitized officers to legitimate hits. Fixed ALPR (stationary units) were found to be more efficient than mobile ALPR in making arrests, as officers tended to sit downstream of fixed locations waiting for hits, resulting in more custody arrests. The control data also showed that 35 percent of all hits were misreads for the mobile readers, with a similar number (37 percent) for the fixed readers. 


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Brennan Center for Justice: Automatic License Plate Readers

The International Association of Chiefs of Police


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