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Community Support for License Plate Recognition

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal Volume: 37 Issue: 1 Dated: 2014 Pages: 30-51
Linda Merola; Cynthia Lum; Breanne Cave; Julie Hibdon
Date Published
22 pages
This article reports on the development of a continuum of the police use of license plate recognition (LPR) technology, in order to provide a framework for understanding the potential legal and legitimacy issues related to LPR.
A random-sample survey of 457 community residents solicited their views of police agencies' use of LPR. The study found substantial support for many LPR uses, although the public apparently does not know much about the technology and how police use it. The survey also found that the public does not regard the uses of LPR as equivalent; rather, support is qualified depending upon the use at issue. Previous research has not systematically categorized the wide variety of LPR uses, an oversight which has sometimes led to implicit consideration of these functions as if they are equivalent in their costs and benefits. To assist agencies concerned with community responses to LPR use, this article identifies a number of factors that tend to decrease support for LPR; namely, the extent to which a use involves purposes unrelated to vehicle enforcement, the extent to which a function involves prolonged storage of individuals' travel data, and the extent to which a use is perceived as impacting "average" members of the community. (Publisher abstract modified)