St. Tammany Parish law enforcement has quietly been watching motorists as they drive along the area’s major thoroughfares.
For at least eight months, a network of cameras has been snapping photos of license plates, checking for stolen vehicles, wanted felons on the run and cars linked to crimes.
Authorities have been hesitant to openly discuss the program for fear of tipping their hand to the parish’s criminal element, even though similar systems have been implemented and scrutinized in Jefferson Parish and New Orleans. But the secretive network surfaced publicly during a Slidell City Council meeting this week, as that municipality’s police force sought support for four cameras installed within its jurisdiction.
We’ve had it in place for a while, and it’s a very useful investigative tool,” said Capt. George Bonnett, spokesman for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the system.
Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) Scanning Systems
Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) scanning systems are one of the newest technologies in the hands of law enforcement. The system consists of several cameras mounted on a police cruiser, hooked up to a computer inside the vehicle. The image on license plates are scanned and matched with an on-board, real-time database. This database can be set with flags for vehicles that have been identified as
- Stolen Vehicles
- Wanted for an Amber Alerts
- Expired Registration
- Expired Insurance
- Wanted as “Persons of Interest” for any investigation
The system is also matched with the owner of the vehicle via a DMV database. So if you are the owner of a car, and have a
- Suspended Driver’s License
- Outstanding Criminal Warrant
- Outstanding Municipal Taxes or other Fines and Fees
- Are Wanted for any other police or government purpose
you can find yourself stopped by the police in a heartbeat, just for driving down the street, and not committing any traffic violation.