Move Over Transformers–Cops Have Mobile License Plate Scanners
You might remember the scene from the first Transformers movie where Bumble Bee scans a much nicer version of a Camaro and transforms into it. Apparently, law enforcement can scan license plates of moving vehicles at high speeds.
The same company that makes body cams makes plate scanners.
Just about everyone has heard of police body cams, they're in use just about everywhere. The vast majority are made by a company called Axon. One of the most notable incidents involving body camera footage was the May, 2020 shootout between suspects and Police in an alleyway in Pasco.
But now, Axon is supplying law enforcement with a camera that can capture license plate images from distances of up to 50 feet at high speed. From the Axon website:
"The Axon Fleet 3 ALPR camera has a 60° field of view, covering 3 lanes of traffic out to a distance of 50 feet - referred to as the capture area, and will read plates passing through the capture area at closing speeds of up to 140MPH."
It even works in low or poor light conditions. It's called an ALPR system, and once it registers a "hit" from a wanted plate, the notification is within a second or two.
They're usually mounted on the dashboard, and angled slightly left so they can capture plates of oncoming vehicles. If a stolen vehicle has its plate entered into the system, it allows officers to learn a vehicle is stolen even before they visually ID it.
An Adams County Deputy on Patrol near Othello had his APLR system 'ping' him about that stolen Moses Lake vehicle driven by a juvenile over this last weekend.
The tech first emerged in 2016 but did not become widespread until the last few years when Axon announced they were entering the field. The WSP has been using them, according to their website, since the beginning. However, many local agencies are just now adding them after having begun to utilize officer body cameras.
See the Must-Drive Roads in Every State