Articles / The Case for ALPR in Every Car

The Case for ALPR in Every Car

Law enforcement agencies agree: There are many benefits of having automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology. In a survey published by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 68% of agencies that had implemented ALPR technology reported notable increases in stolen vehicle recoveries. Additionally, 55% of agencies reported an increase in arrests, 50% reported an increase in officer productivity and 35% reported an increase in crimes solved. And that’s with limited use of ALPR, as most agencies can only afford to outfit a small portion of their fleet with the technology.

Individual stats are even more compelling. According to a report by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a single Montgomery County Police Department vehicle equipped with ALPR for 96 hours over the course of 27 days captured 48,101 plates. Those plate reads resulted in the recovery of four stolen vehicles, three arrests, 26 suspended drivers and 255 traffic citations. Imagine the advantages of having ALPR in every vehicle in your fleet.

Barriers to widespread ALPR adoption

Unfortunately, while ALPR technology has clear benefits, it’s also costly. Traditional mobile systems range from $15,000 to upwards of $23,000 per vehicle. Then you have to consider the cost of installation, maintenance and training officers how to use the system. That’s why agencies typically only equip about 5-10% of their vehicles with ALPR — and that means having to be strategic with the resources.

“It’s cost-prohibitive for most agencies to put ALPR in a large portion of their fleet,” says Marc Palmieri, subject matter expert, Axon Fleet. “And so they’re forced to select which cars and officers get to use ALPR, or they must strategize about deploying ALPR cars in only the most crime-ridden areas.”

When agencies choose to deploy ALPR vehicles based on crime statistics, they miss out on the hits they would get on stolen vehicles and felony warrants in lower-crime areas, as well as on Amber alerts, Silver alerts and other BOLOs throughout a jurisdiction. Even more importantly, using crime statistics to determine where to deploy increased efforts, such as ALPR, is self-reinforcing — greater policing efforts in a particular area mean officers might observe more crime — and can bias toward low-income areas.

Widespread adoption of ALPR can help agencies positively support the communities they serve by using the technology as a tool that not only leads to more opportunities to stop offenders across all communities, but can help exonerate innocent people who shouldn’t be stopped.  

Making ALPR more affordable

To make ALPR technology more accessible to agencies of all sizes and budgets, Axon developers are incorporating ALPR capability into the Fleet 3 in-car video systems. Replacing the three-to-four separate camera units that are installed on the exterior of the vehicle in traditional ALPR systems, Fleet 3 integrates ALPR technology into its single, dual-view camera that attaches to the windshield inside the vehicle.

Less equipment means lower cost and easier installation. Agencies can equip every vehicle in their fleet with ALPR, and capture eight times more plate reads for the same spend over using traditional ALPR systems. That translates not only to a much greater number of stops, but also increased officer safety.

“When officers have a reliable license plate reader in their vehicle, they can focus their attention on patrol and observation, and less on manually entering license plates,” says Trey Mills, senior product manager, Axon Fleet. “In addition to being relieved of that burden, the system itself can read and run more plates than a human ever could. So, the opportunities for finding a plate of interest are expanded, and that translates to more efficient policing and safer neighborhoods.”

Request a trial

Does ALPR in every car sound too good to be true? Contact Axon to find out how you can request a trial of Axon Fleet 3 with integrated ALPR.