New East Palo Alto license plate readers will run plates through crime databases

Peninsula Press

By the new year, the East Palo Alto Police Department will be using automatic license plate readers to identify law breakers.

The City Council has agreed to pay for the new devices – including two sets of high-speed cameras and sophisticated computers – with a $37,540 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Police can use the technology to compare license plates with various crime databases. East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald Davis said his department will only use it to check for stolen cars and vehicles that are wanted in connection with a crime.

The car-mounted devices can automatically scan all vehicles’ plates  within a certain radius of the patrol car, run the information through pre-selected databases and report back immediately to officers if a car is stolen or wanted, according to the East Palo Alto police department. Last year, East Palo Alto tested a license plate reader owned by the San Mateo Sheriff’s Office. Davis said the results were positive.

East Palo Alto has been on a campaign with police-surveillance technology for the past five years. In 2009, the city became the first in the nation to install citywide gunshot detectors. The police department also equipped all of its patrol cars with video cameras.

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