Sexual Assault Training & Investigations

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SATI e-News: March 2007


New Technology Can Help Enforce Protection Orders

Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) is most commonly used in recovering stolen autos and tracking down outstanding warrants. But law enforcement can also use the emerging technology in enforcing protection orders for victims of domestic violence and stalking.
ALPR uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology to scan and “read” license plates. When aimed at a vehicle, infrared light illuminates a license plate, allowing the system to work in the dark as well as in daylight. A high-speed camera takes a photograph of the illuminated license plate. In a matter of seconds OCR software converts the images into digital letters and numbers.
ALPR is available in fixed, mobile or covert units. The covert unit is the type which can be useful in enforcing protection orders. The covert unit is hidden in a traffic barrel or other obscure object near the victim’s home and the license plate number of the stalker is programmed into the system. When a car with that license plate number passes the point where the ALPR equipment is located, an alarm is triggered and law enforcement is immediately notified.
ALPR technology starts at around $25,000 but it varies depending on the system and the vendor. For more information visit

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