License plate scans are used here

The in basket: Jerry Jurgens of Poulsbo e-mails to say “I recently heard on the radio that some state in the mid-west had a policy of having police taking photos of the license plates of cars in a general and continuous format, not just when they were stopping a vehicle for some citation or infraction.

“That, in and of itself, seemed a bit Big Brotherish but what sort of raised my hackles was that everyone could acquire that information through the freedom of information act. That means that an insurance company, a jealous wife, a predator, etc. could get records of where your vehicle goes on a routine basis and where it had been on a number of specific days.

“Does Washington State take photos of license plates and if they do, what is the policy as to who has access to that information?” Jerry asked.

The out basket: I asked only the State Patrol and Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office about this, and both say they have such a capability.

Trooper Russ Winger  of WSP says it “utilizes the ALPR (Automated License Plate Reader) in two capacities at the moment.

“The Auto Theft Division utilizes some vehicles equipped with the camera/computer system to identify possible stolen license plates and vehicles. If there is a ‘hit’ on a plate, the detective can investigate further and has several ways of cross checking about the validity of the hit prior to taking action to stop and identify the vehicle and driver/occupants, if present.”  Any  information not of value to those purposes is automatically purged from the system each 60 days, he said..

“Another use of the ALPR is at the WSF terminals,” Russ said. “WSP’s Division of Homeland Security uses the system to screen vehicles. Only law enforcement has access to the WSP information and the same retention policy is utilized for stored information.

Deputy Scott Wilson of KCSO says, “The sheriff’s office has one ALPR installed within its fleet of marked patrol vehicles, as a result of a grant from the federal government. It’s use has added to the sheriff’s office capabilities to check for stolen vehicles or those identified as being involved in major felony criminal cases.

“Unless the ALPR detects a vehicle that has been previously reported stolen (as the scan is taking place), the sheriff’s deputy operating the ALPR has no access to the information contained in the ALPR database.

“License plate scans into the ALPR database are downloaded at the end of the deputy’s shift and retained by the sheriff’s office for six months. Access to this information is limited within the sheriff’s office to supervisors and is granted when there is a law enforcement investigatory purpose,” Scott said.

He also said Kitsap Sun reporter Josh Farley wrote an article about the installed ALPRs in local law enforcement patrol vehicles in November 2009.

Here’s the link:



6 thoughts on “License plate scans are used here

  1. The automatic toll lanes on both the Narrows and 520 also do photo tolling by photographing the license plate. The red light cameras and speed zone cameras have this capability as well. I doubt they keep a record of every car passing through, but they probably could.

    There have been civil cases where tolling data has been used to prove that somebody had been in one area or another at a certain time.

    And, of course if you carry a cell phone your location can be roughly triangulated based on what cell towers you are currently using even when the phone is idle.

  2. I’m almost 99% positive The BPD’s ANPR system is provided by Redflex Inc.
    As your readers should know Redflex owns, operates and maintains the automated red light cameras as seen in Bremerton. Redflex is a foreign, for profit company. Who’s to say what they do with the data that they are recording and storing?
    I know for a fact Redflex cameras are recording 24/7/365 and that data is stored by Redflex and that data can be and has been used for other things besides red light infractions.
    How do you like to be spied on? Some will say, ” if you are not doing anything wrong then why worry?” my answer is, “if I’m not doing anything wrong than why spy on me?”
    What if the BPD hates me for standing up in opposition to their for profit cameras?How easy it would be to set their computer on alert should my vehicle enter their city.
    I do not like it. It is un-American.

  3. did some googlin and it appears the BPD’s plate readers came from Day Wireless Sytems not Redflex as I previously thought. I’ll have to look into this more and get back to you.

  4. If they are doing this then why can’t they use this to send Tickets out for EXPIRED TAGS. I have seen too many drivers going down the road with EXPIRED TAGS on their vehicle. This would FORCE vehicle Owners to renew their plates.
    With Drivers who have failed to pay for crossing the 520 floating bridge who cannot renew their tags until they pay their tolls. It would be able to give them Citations for Expired Tags and could possibly force them to have their tags removed by State Patrol.

  5. Roger, my tags are expired because I refuse to pay their Redflex Automated Infraction. I am not guilty and paying the fine is an “admission of guilt”. I took it to court but they put an unsworn, unqualified “judge” in front of me who refused to examine my evidence. Long Story short, the city of Bremerton hand in hand with Redflex are ruining my credit and are making it impossible to register my work vehicle. I have been pulled over once by WSP but he let me off with a warning. I still need to work and drive my vehicle for travel thru out the state. So if you see my expired tag now you know why. I would hope the LEo’s have bigger fish to fry then my little tag but ……oh wait, I am the fish they already fried.
    P.S. The BPD officer was off duty, he wasn’t at work when REDFLEX signed and dated “my” ticket in Arizona “under the penalty of perjury” So there is your automated for profit, police work.

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