POLICE Magazine Supplements

Investigative Technologies 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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DIGITAL IMAGING has led to much innovation in a vari- ety of professions. Being able to capture a photo or video with- out lm and without magnetic tape has made it much easier and much less expensive to capture images that can be ana- lyzed by the human eye and by computers. Combining digital imaging with sophisticated analysis so- ware and massive databases has created some of the most in- novative and eective crimeghting tools in history. Better yet this equipment for performing tasks such as license plate read- ing, facial recognition, and now rapid ballistic examination of bullets and shell casings can be utilized by a wide variety of agencies at the federal, state, and local level. •e one constant for all investigative imaging tools is that they facilitate tasks that law enforcement o•cers used to perform manually. O•cers used to have no choice but to go through mugshot books trying to match a surveillance photo of a suspect and they had to search for license plates and call them in to dispatch in a quest for stolen or suspect vehicles. Now these tasks can be made easier through investiga- tive imaging tools. But it's not just about making the job easier. It's about mak- ing o•cers more eective in their mission to protect the public. Plate Readers License plate recognition (LPR) systems are not a re- cent innovation. •e rst uses date to the 1970s in the United Kingdom and they were in wide use across Eu- rope in the 1990s. America lagged behind on this law enforcement tool for about a decade because of the complexity of U.S. license plates in contrast to their European counterparts. LPR systems consist of a camera, optical character recogni- tion soware, and a database. •e system does not automati- cally display information on every plate it reads. When it sees a plate that is listed in a law enforcement database, it alerts the user that it has a "hit." •e o•cer working the system then can follow his or her agency policy for learning more about that vehicle and how to respond. Experts who instruct law enforcement agencies and o•cers how to use this technology are quick to explain that a "hit" on the LPR system does not constitute probable cause to stop the driver. Operators need to verify that the vehicle is really associated with a warrant. False hits can occur for a variety of reasons. For exam- ple, the information in the database could be old. •ere are a wide variety of LPR systems available and they can be deployed in a number of dierent ways, including xed, mobile in a vehicle, portable on a trailer, and even as apps on o•cers' phones. Trailers are par- ticularly useful in investi- gations because they can be moved to a target area to note the comings and goings of a subject. Some privacy experts fear that LPR is used to track an individual's movement. But LPR is not a GPS tracker; it would only alert the operator when the vehicle is in front of the camera. You 10 | SP E C I A L R E P O RT | I N V E S T IG AT I V E T E C H NO L O G I E S PHOTO: COGNITEC Facial recognition systems like Cognitec's FaceVACS-DBScan LE allow officers to develop investigative leads quickly. DEVELOPING LEADS WITH INVESTIGATIVE IMAGING TOOLS Technologies like LPR and facial recognition are helping detectives identify persons of interest, but making an arrest still requires follow-through. DAVID GRIFFITH

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