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License Plate Reader Policy Development Template for Use in Intelligence and Investigative Activities

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2017
57 pages
This policy development template for a law enforcement agency that plans to use a license plate reader (LPR) is designed to ensure that LPR information collectioin, receipt, access, use, dissemination, retention, and purging efforts protect individual privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.
LPRs use image-processing technology to identify vehicles by their license plates. Using a special form of optical character recognition, the LPR's algorithms transform pixels of a digital image into the text of a license plate. Images captured by LPRs can be compared to law enforcement databases of registered vehicles. One of the fastest-growing uses of LPRs is by justice agencies, which use LPR technology as an investigative tool in recovering stolen vehicles, locating possible criminals, assisting in the security of large public venues, and conducting other intelligence and investigative activities. When a law enforcement agency determines to develop and implement an LPR policy, it is important that the policy is not a one-time project; it is one component of an ongoing LPR program that protects privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. The LPR policy must specify the legal framework and policy position regarding how the agency handles LPR information. Other tasks that are a part of this effort include training personnel and authorized users on the established rules and procedures for LPR use; the auditing of practices to ensure their compliance with LPR policy; and an annual review of the policy for changes in technology, applicable law, and public expectations. The LPR policy template provided can be used as an initial model policy statement, but must be considered a dynamic document subject to annual review and revision as circumstances warrant. Appended listing of relevant federal law, cases and authorities, and fair information practice principles