License Plate Recognition creates a safer parish

Logan Ridenour

The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office has implemented two new License Plate Recognition (LPR) systems in patrol cars.

"LPRs are a valuable tool in law enforcement to battle crime," Sheriff Bobby Webre said.

Previously, the sheriff's office relied on fixed systems, but with the new addition of vehicle mounted LPRs, the deputies on the ground can be even more effective.

"An LPR reads a license plate as it passes and then automatically runs this plate through a national database to check if this license plate is wanted in connection with a crime or stolen," Webre said.

If the license plate is associated with a crime, the deputies are alerted and able to take appropriate action. LPRs inform deputies of what the vehicle looks like, where it is, where it's going, and why it's in the database.

This way, deputies know the type of situation they're approaching before they get there. The reasons for a vehicle being in the database may vary. It may appear for being connected to situations such as a missing person, an Amber Alert, or a Silver Alert.

This type of information has allowed Ascension Parish Deputies to find two missing persons, while utilizing the previously installed LPRs.

"Within the last year deputies utilizing the LPR have made 94 arrests and recovered 21 stolen vehicles and $240,000 dollars of stolen property. Ten of these arrests led to further charges involving illegal narcotics," Webre said.

If an incident occurs in the area where an LPR is posted, investigators are able to gain access to information that may be pertinent in solving the crime. This data is only accessible by authorized law-enforcement personnel.

These new LPRs don't take away from the importance of having involved deputies – they only assist in making their jobs easier and safer. The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office does not use these LPRs for traffic enforcement, and they do not notify deputies of traffic offenses.