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Monday, August 29, 2005
  Viva La Big Brother - Your world just got that much smaller
Print Article: "ARCADIA -- Arcadia police officers will soon monitor every vehicle that enters and exits the city's mall and racetrack from the comfort of police headquarters, with a new technology that scans license plates and runs them through criminal databases.

The technology effectively multiplies the reach of law enforcement without the expense of hiring officers, said Arcadia Police Chief Bob Sanderson.

The Automatic License Plate Recognition technology was developed in England and is distributed locally by Hamilton Pacific, a Pasadena-based security company. It was introduced in 2004, and mobile units are now being used on five California Highway Patrol cars in the state. The company also sells stationary camera systems to monitor crime-ridden streets and parks.

In Arcadia, police officials said the cameras will be in fixed positions at the Westfield Santa Anita mall and the Santa Anita Park racetrack and linked through wireless technology to the station on Huntington Drive. Mobile cameras will also be mounted to two patrol cars, Sanderson said.

The cameras scan every license plate in sight at a rate of up to 1,500 an hour, said Steve Reinharz, regional manager of Hamilton Pacific. In comparison, a diligent police officer might run 60 to 80 plates an hour, he said.

In milliseconds, the system runs the plates through a database of 110,000 to 140,000 stolen vehicles, searching for matches. It is updated daily.

Other databases of wanted suspects and vehicles used in felonies also are automatically searched. When a license plate on the street is matched with one in a database, an audio alert notifies the police."
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