2012-07-17 / Front Page
Jackson police to get license plate reader
JACKSON — With a new piece of law enforcement technology in place, one Jackson police cruiser will become an extra set of eyes for the officer inside the vehicle.
A resolution approving the purchase of a four-camera mobile auto license plate reader system and the Panasonic Toughbook computer that is needed to run the system was passed during the June 12 meeting of the Township Council. The appropriation totals $35,000.
“Our job is to keep unsafe drivers off the street. If a court determines someone is unsafe to have on the road, this system will let the officer know right away,” Jackson police
Sgt. John Convery said. “It’s a benefit for everybody.”
The system was purchased with a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and it will scan and track license plates in real time by using four cameras mounted on the hood and trunk of a police cruiser.
Information about a scanned license plate and the vehicle’s registered owner will then be relayed to the patrol officer regarding the vehicle’s status.
Convery said the officer will be advised whether the vehicle whose license plate is being scanned is a vehicle that police should be on the lookout for. The officer will also be able to determine if the car is registered or insured. The officer will also get information about the registered owner.
The license plate reader system has been on the township’s radar since 2010. It took a while for municipal officials to make certain how the grant could be used, according to Business Administrator Jose Torres.
Convery called the license plate reader “… a safety device. It is another tool for law enforcement to make the town safer.” He said the privacy of Jackson’s citizens will not be in jeopardy.
“If you have no violations, your plate will just pass right through the system. We wouldn’t have probable cause to [stop a vehicle],” he said.
In the event that a scanned license plate results in a notification to the officer, Convery said it would be up to the officer to determine whether to stop the vehicle.
“We have to verify that there is some sort of similarity in the hit we have and the driver of the vehicle [before pulling them over],” Convery said. “If the system turns up for a 21-year-old male [owner] and a 50- year-old woman is driving the car, we won’t pull the car over unless there is something else like a broken headlight.
“Twenty years ago, a computer in a car was unheard of; now it’s in every one,” he said. “I call that kind of thing a force multiplier — tools that make each officer more effective. This is one of those things that can do that.”