Capable of scanning thousands of licence plates per hour, Greater Sudbury Police Service is getting 31 automated licence plate readers.
Though Chief Paul Pedersen said it’s unclear when they’ll be in operation, the police board approved the purchase at a cost of $612,433 during this week’s meeting. The province is covering the bill through a grant that encourages the purchase of the devices.
“It's a camera that allows automatically, the police vehicle to read the licence plate in front of it,” Pedersen told local media following this week’s meeting.
The cameras are mounted to the dashboard of police cruisers and automatically scan licence plates. They automatically plug information into a Ministry of Transportation database to flag problem vehicles, which can spur police to take action.
This can include things like unregistered vehicles, whether the vehicle was reported stolen and any outstanding warrants affecting the driver. The system is also capable of flagging vehicles of interest in relation to things such as Amber Alerts.
“Previous to this, the officers would have to either on the radio ask dispatch to check that licence plate or with the MDTs the computers in their car,” Pedersen said, adding that the technology will help keep the community safe “from that which may cause concern, (such as) stolen vehicles and/or suspended drivers driving in our community.“
Any information the cameras collect is uploaded into a digital evidence management system for analysis and court purposes.
Greater Sudbury Police currently have two automated licence plate readers. Sudbury.com produced a video back in 2016 when those two scanners were unveiled. You can watch that below.
With the upcoming addition of 31 readers, more than half of the police fleet will be equipped with the devices. Front-line patrol vehicles, including the traffic division, will be prioritized.
Paid for by the province, the devices have a five-year lifespan and accompanying warranty. Future police budgets are slated to account for their eventual replacement.
Earlier this week, the OPP announced that all of their vehicles had been equipped with automated licence plate recognition computers.
"This initiative supports the OPP's commitment to increasing transparency and accountability in the policing of our communities, and to leverage technologies that will enhance community and officer safety," according to a news release.
"In addition to the benefits that will come with having an objective video recording of an interaction between an officer and a member of the public, the integrated (automated licence plate recognition) functionality will dramatically enhance the ability of an officer to detect licence plates that are linked with criminal or traffic offences.”
The data from Greater Sudbury police’s body-worn cameras will be downloaded into the same system when they are deployed.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.