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New GRPD Plate Readers Means More Eyes on the Road

Posted at 11:32 AM, Mar 14, 2013

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– It’s technology that is changing the way Grand Rapids police patrol the streets. Today, GRPD unveiled their automatic license plate recognition systems.

Right now, when a Grand Rapids police officer runs a license plate, they spot the one that they want to run. Then, the officer manually types it into their laptop. The driver’s information comes up on the screen.

This new technology will eliminate the need to spot any particular vehicle, and it’ll speed up that process. Three cameras are mounted on top of four patrol cars, keeping an eye on vehicles. As officers drive around, the cameras will automatically scan license plates and compares them to known databases, notifying the officer of a match immediately.

The department said ALPR technology will improve officer efficiency, safety, increase the recovery of stolen vehicles, as well as increase the warrant arrests.

“I often wonder many times in my career, ‘gosh, I wonder if I just drove right by the [suspect],” said Sergent Allen Noles, referring to times when he responds to calls where a suspect has fled the scene. “Now, I’ll know.”

Right now, officers are able to run about 50 to 100 plates per shift. With the cameras, will be able to scan close to 5,000 plates a shift.

The city approved spending just over $104,000 to buy the cameras for four patrol cars. The department said they will likely recoup 114,000 in the first year, largely through those unpaid tickets and fines.