After spending two years with only an automatic license plate reader as a partner, a local Ohio police officer says it is an invaluable law enforcement tool. Interesting details on it’s use are provided in this news item in the Dayton Daily News. [Read more…]
Butler county is the newest part of Ohio ready to deploy automatic license plate scanning technology to passively scan for traffic scofflows and other criminal activity. The Butler county Sherrif’s department is added to the growing list of law enforcement agencies using these systems, including the Ohio Highway Patrol and Toledo PD.
As noted in the news article, these devices scan every license plate near the police vehicle scanner, whether stationary or moving. If it picks up a plate that is matched with a stolen vehicle, or identifies a car that is owned by someone with a suspended driver’s license or outstanding criminal warrant for bail jumping, the officer is instantly alerted.
These license plate scanning systems can be configured to match any law enforcement or government database. Some municipalities choose to use these systems to find and boot vehicles whose owners may owe money for parking tickets or back taxes. But this flexibility and the amount of data collected can raise concerns about the civil liberties protections of this constant monitoring.
Certainly few would object to increased police efficiency in finding cars flagged for an amber altert, or stolen vehicles. But data is collected and stored on many thousands of cars who have done nothing wrong. Yet with the GPS location matching, the government knows exactly where your car was at what time. This data can be stored indefinitely, and shared with any government agency to be searched retroactively.
These systems will only become cheaper and more widespread. In the very near future, they will likely be standard equipment on all police and governent vehicles in Ohio and nationwide.
You simply can’t expect to go anywhere unnoticed anymore.
And this fact is critical to anyone who thinks they can get away with ignored a driver’s license suspension or failure to appear notification.
If you are accused of a crime in Ohio, call our defense attorneys for a free legal consultation and evaluation of the charges against you. There is no obligation for the intial consultation.
A fascinating video of the newest police techology: an automatic license plate scanner for instantly identifying stolen vehicles. This system is being deployed now in Toledo, OH, and is rapidly being rolled out by law enforcement agencies in Ohio and nationwide.
The system works by snapping visible and infrared images of every car and plate, running each plates through an optical character recognition system, and instantly matching the number to a database of vehicles. When a flagged car is identified, the officer in the vehicle is instantly alerted to take action while still in proximity to the car.
You can easily see how this can be applied to monitor and scan cars for any number of purposes. Some states are already using this to identify drivers who are operating on a suspended driver’s license, driving without insurance, or if the owner has an outstanding criminal warrant.
And the broader use of this techology is obvious. All plates are identified, stored, and sorted by date, time, and GPS location. This is true even for cars for which there is no problem, or obvious need for the information, but the data is stored somewhere, and can be saved indefinitely.
The historical data can conceivably be used for legitimate law enforcement purposes. For example, if a dangerous fugitive or kidnapper is on the loose, police can comb through the data and find out where his car may have been located months or years past, before there was any issue. This could provide clues to a person’s current whereabouts, or places he is known to visit.
And of course, this information can also be easily used to track and monitor people for no legitimate purpose. But the data is collected and accesssble, without a warrant.
Clearly civil liberties law has not caught up with these new used of technology and monitoring in law enforcement.
If you are charged with a criminal offense in Ohio, please contact our defense attorney for a free legal consultation and criminal case evaluation today!