Jul 2, 2014
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Law enforcement agencies across the country have quickly been adopting a new technology to combat auto theft and other crimes: automated license plate reader (LPR) systems. These systems can capture the image of the license plate of a passing vehicle and compare the plate number against official "hotlists" that show an array of infractions or reasons why it may be of interest to authorities. But because LPR technology is relatively new in the United States, opportunities and obstacles in its use in law enforcement are still under exploration. To examine issues about this technology, RAND conducted interviews with law enforcement officers and others responsible for procuring, maintaining, and operating the systems. Champions of LPR technology exist at many levels, from tech-savvy officers who use it every day, to chiefs who promote it, to other officials and policymakers who believe LPR technology is a significant force multiplier for police departments. Challenges exist, however, to realizing more widespread acceptance and use of the technology. Chief among these are privacy concerns related to the retention and potential misuse of LPR data, technical and bureaucratic impediments to sharing data among law enforcement agencies, and constraints on the availability of staffing and training needed to support LPR systems.
Framing the LPR Environment
LPR Uses in Different Operational Environments
The Legal Aspect of LPR Privacy Concerns
Common Themes and Challenges in LPR Use
Agency Lessons Learned
Case Study Summaries