Brimfield Township is the latest Ohio law enforcement agency to deploy high tech license plate scanning devices to identify and flag drivers wanted by the police. These cameras mounted on police cars and connected to computer systems inside the police car alter officers to the nearby presence of cars that are being sought by law enforcement and government agencies.
The most common application for these systems is for finding stolen vehicles, or driver’s who may be operating with a suspended license, or an outstanding warrant. But police are able to put any plate into the system for any reason, and if spotted, the vehicle is flagged, and the officer alerted.
According to the Record Publishing, the new devices are set to be online within the next month.
The specific system is a Mobile Plate Hunter 900, which can capture and track up to 3,600 license plates per minute. The system is hailed as a “force multipler”. Officers have long been able to selectively enter plate ID’s into their computers while sitting by the side of the road. This is considered a perfectly reasonable activity, to randomly check for scofflaws or wanted individual.
But this system is the equivalent of checking and verifying every vehicle within visual range. While many people are wary of this kind of giant surveillance net, it is all perfectly legal. If you are driving down a public street, the police do not have the right to stop you for no reason, but they do have the right to verify that your car is legitimately and legally on the road, without notifying you.
Worse yet, all this data is stored somewhere. These thousands of plates per minute are all logged and stored by location. All this data can be easily put together from different agencies, so the government can automatically assemble an extensive record of every time and plate your card was spotted on the road.
Something to keep in mind, if you decide to venture out driving your car after a license suspension. It used to be that you would have to be fairly unlucky to get caught. As the giant surveillance net is further expanded, soon it will be the exception rather than the rule that your plate is scanned, just by driving down your street.