Carjackers beware: The Gilroy Police Department has some cool new toys, and they’re not afraid to use them.
Thanks to a $24,000 grant the GPD applied for through the Association of Bay Area Governments, local law enforcement has secured two Automated License Plate Readers (known as the ALPR system) manufactured by a security corporation called Federal Signal.
The devices – which are hardwired to the top of two GPD patrol cars and have been in use for about two months – can read thousands of license plates by tapping into a database of vehicles maintained by the Department of Justice.
GPD Sgt. Chad Gallacinao said the technology allows police to search for vehicles that are stolen; vehicles that were used in a felony crime; are associated with AMBER alerts/wanted subjects; or are wanted by law enforcement for other purposes. The devices do not search registration information or DMV records.
The ALPR system consists of several cameras that automatically read license plates, whether the car is stationary or moving. The cameras have the ability to capture thousands of license plates per hour, during all hours of the day and night and at high speeds.
“One of the reasons behind [obtaining the readers] is if we were able to locate stolen vehicles while they were unoccupied, it would help us uncover them in an timely matter, assist in recovery and minimize the potential for a police pursuit, which has safety implications,” said Gallacinao.
Given that the GPD dealt with 169 motor vehicle thefts in 2011, the ALPRs system will surely be put to good use.
Gallacinao described the mechanisms as popular tools used within a number of different agencies throughout Santa Clara County, including Morgan Hill. The scanners are only available to law enforcement.