Update: We talked with Lt. Jim Dobbs about the cameras, which sound pretty cool. The cameras will be mounted on four squad cars' light bars and running nonstop while the cars are on duty. They can be used to track specific license plates and for general surveillance.
Dobbs gave a few examples of how this will be useful:
* The cameras can search for stolen vehicle. If the camera hits on a stolen plate, the system pings the officer so they can recover the car.
* They can also help investigators track down subjects. For example, if someone catches a license plate in an armed robbery, investigators can review the license plate cameras to find out where the suspect was before or after a crime.
* It gives police another tool to track track sexual offenders.
* It also could help spot people who owe significant amounts of money in overdue parking tickets. If these cars are spotted, police can tow them until the fines are paid.
If you're on the right side of the law, that can be a good thing. If not ... well, tell it to the judge!
Yesterday -- according to a release from Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI -- the U.S. Senate approved Kohl's request for $850,000 for crime prevention projects in Southeastern Wisconsin. Most of the money went to Milwaukee, but Racine could scoop up $100,000 for four license plate recognition cameras.
Here's what the release said about them:
This project will provide the City of Racine with four Automatic License Plate Recognition cameras on police patrol cars. The system will capture digital images of virtually every license plate within view of the patrol car, either moving or stationary.No word on how effective the city's existing crime-fighting cameras have been...
The license plates are then instantaneously compared to a variety of databases. The officer operating the system is immediately notified of any irregularities and may then take appropriate actions.
These cameras will reduce the amount of time officers spend investigating crimes so they can spend more time patrolling Racine streets and neighborhoods. In addition to benefiting the City of Racine, the Racine Police Department regularly participates in multi-jurisdictional law and traffic enforcement projects, so those jurisdictions will benefit from the use of this equipment as well.
The money is in the Senate version of the 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which will now go before the House-Senate conference committee