In the FBI’s most recently released Crime in the United States report, researchers found across the country that for every 1,000 people in 2017, there were an average of 2.8 law enforcement employees.
Police departments have been actively trying to keep up with growing populations for years without an equally growing law enforcement budget. With more people comes more responsibility for police. Precincts are facing a need to augment their presence in the community, but with consistent budget cuts over the years, police departments just aren’t able to increase their department size.
Enter technology’s role in modern-day policing.
In cities with larger police departments, law enforcement officers have been implementing the use of Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs).
Mounted on the outside of patrol cars or fixed to utility and traffic poles, ALPRs help police keep an eye on areas they most likely aren’t able to patrol 24/7, instantly analyzing vehicle license plates that pass by the camera’s view.
Police say these readers help save them from manually sorting through and calling in tags to dispatchers. Without having to lift a finger, officers can be instantly alerted to hot tags around the city.
Police aren't the only group able to purchase and use ALPRs. Businesses and neighborhoods have caught on to this automatic security solution and have implemented its use in their own private communities.
This bodes well for many departments where budgets won't allow for ALPRs, which can cost anywhere between $10,000 - $30,000, to be placed all over the city. Through partnerships with private, camera-bearing communities, police can reach out to a network of camera owners to ask for help in gathering evidence in the event that a crime occurs close by.
ALPRs help police keep their community safer by allowing them an extra set of eyes in the areas they work so hard to protect, but just aren't able to reach due to a lack of manpower coverage.