Plate-reading system gives police license to scan |

Plate-reading system gives police license to scan

Monte Whaley
The Denver Post
LICENSEPLATE01_ Commerce City, Thornton and Adams County are using a new autormated license plate reader which automatically scans the license plates of parked and moving cars. The info is then compared to crime records. It's been used find stolen cars, active warrants and sex offenders. RJ Sangosti/ The Denver Post

COMMERCE CITY – Officer Daniel Schaefer slowly eased his patrol car past a minivan, which looked like any other vehicle aiming to take a suburban family to the store or soccer game.

But just as his car inched by, a low ping rang from the laptop in the cruiser’s console, alerting him that the minivan’s owners could be up to no good.

It was a demonstration of Commerce City’s Automated License Plate Reader – and the van was an innocent prop to show the function of a data-driven tool that Schaefer says may be “one of the biggest innovations in law enforcement that I’ve seen in a long time.”

ALPR automatically scans the plates of parked or moving cars as a police cruiser drives past. The plates are instantly compared with the Colorado Crime Information Center database, and police are informed of any matches. The ALPR is programmed to identify stolen vehicles/license plates, drivers with active warrants and registered sex offenders.

“We’re confident that it will soon be a fundamental tool for enhancing law enforcement performance and communication in north metro Denver,” said Larry Woog, Commerce City police investigations commander.

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