Archive for Friday, April 29, 2011

Lawrence Police Department installs cameras to track license plates at intersection of Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa Drive

April 29, 2011


These cameras, recently installed behind stoplights in the westbound lane of Clinton Parkway at the northwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa Drive, will be used by local law enforcement to search for license plates of vehicles of people suspected in crimes.

These cameras, recently installed behind stoplights in the westbound lane of Clinton Parkway at the northwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa Drive, will be used by local law enforcement to search for license plates of vehicles of people suspected in crimes.

There’s a new crimefighter in town, and it’s hanging from a traffic light in west Lawrence.

The Lawrence Police Department confirmed Friday that it has installed video cameras at the intersection of Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa Drive to capture the license plate numbers of vehicles suspected in a crime.

“We would like to take a look at having cameras installed in other intersections, depending on how well they work and how the public reacts to them,” said Sgt. Matt Sarna, a spokesman for the department. “But right now, we’re just in the test phase.”

The cameras are connected to a system that allows police officers to enter the plate number of a suspect’s vehicle, for example, into a computer system. The camera then keeps an eye out for the license plate and sends an immediate notification to the police department once it is spotted.

Sarna said department leaders examined a similar system that is in place in the Kansas City metro areas. He said the cameras likely could be useful in finding vehicles associated with robberies, child abduction cases or other instances where a tag number is known and time is of the essence.

The cameras will not be used to ticket motorists who run red lights. Such systems are used in other states, but the city’s traffic engineer said that red-light cameras are not legal in Kansas. The state Legislature would have to pass a new law that would allow people to be ticketed in such a manner.

Sarna also said the system is not set up to record live video at the intersection. He said the department plans to use the system only as a “community safety initiative during an emergency.”

The cameras were purchased with grant funds, but details about their cost weren’t immediately available Friday afternoon. Sarna said the only cost to the city was installation, which he said was nominal.


pace 5 years ago

It is a pity robocamcop can't ticket the red light runners too.

John Hamm 5 years ago

It's all in the software and the database(s) used.......

eotw33 5 years ago

They should of put it closer to the Topeka turnpike ramp

Keith 5 years ago

If they're going to have cameras in the public right of way, the public also needs to be able to monitor them. Make a website with real time feeds so we can all play snoop.

pace 5 years ago

Want transparent , put live cams in the city managers and every department heads office.

true_patriot 5 years ago

And in the offices of all those that receive corporate welfare from public budgets in the form of privatization and tax breaks, of course.

jayhawks71 5 years ago

So how does it track "wanted" plates without recording all plates and comparing them to a database? Of course it will be tracking everyone and where you are will be stored in a database.

wtff 5 years ago

This is what I find to be disturbing.

I think that the kids program things where they take your fingerprint and all that and its stored is just a way to keep watch on people as they get older. I'm surprised they don't input DNA in the database as well to have a record of everybody. Ugh..

Ricky_Vaughn 5 years ago

I'm sure they already have it. That's what pennies are for...

Bruce Liddel 5 years ago

It's probably already in the works for next year.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years ago

The solution is simple. If you don't want big brother to know you were involved in a crime, either steal a license plate from another car, smear some mud on your license plate, or avoid using those intersections altogether.

But, all kidding aside, it's good that we know where those cameras are. So, when YOU are robbed, or YOUR child is kidnapped, the police can't do a thing in the world when they try to figure out what happened to them.

You're on your own. And, after a few years, you will be able to collect a life insurance policy after your child is presumed dead.

Bruce Liddel 5 years ago

Nonsense Ron. Real criminals will shoot out the cameras, so that the city can raise our taxes in the name of safety. These will be totally ineffective against crime, but marvelously effective at total government domination and elimination of what few civil liberties you still have.

Nothing in the constitution promises me any safety. Safety is an illusion. Government promises safety in return for powers it should never have. I don't want government safety. Wake up before it's too late.

nschwerm 5 years ago

so its only going to be used as a “community safety initiative during an emergency.”

In other words we just blew your tax dollars on a device that will never be used.

Terry Sexton 5 years ago

It's like all the cool cop shows: "Sir, you say you were fishing on the lake at the time of the murder? Then, why do we have your tag number recorded by our cameras at precisely 4:56 in the afternoon of the day in question?" "That was my wife driving." "You're not married." "Ok! I shot him! And I'd have gotten away with it, too if it wasn't for you pesky kids & your pole-mounted cameras!"

sulliedotcom 5 years ago

Guess I'll have to avoid that interection from now on...

leeroy_johnson 5 years ago

Waste of money. Sounds good. Probably will alert too when the cameras find a match, but the police won't be successful in doing much past that. Shawnee had this, but from personal experience they knew where the auto theft thugs were and where they lived, but did jack about it. Alot of lost confidence.

LogicMan 5 years ago

Mythbusters said that stuff doesn't work.

Blessed4x 5 years ago

Yep, sorry. Mythbusters took those products down a long time ago.

Gary Pomeroy 5 years ago

"The Lawrence Police Department confirmed Friday that it has installed video cameras at the intersection of Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa Drive to capture the license plate numbers of vehicles suspected in a crime. "

So Wakarusa and Clinton is the high crime area??

DeMontfort 5 years ago

Yeah, that's my question, sort of. Is this intersection on the getaway route? How was this intersection chosen?

salem58 5 years ago

wow, i love how the government works in convenience. whatever keeps us 'safe'. we can all go back to sleep now big brother has our backs.

Curtis Lange 5 years ago

They probably installed the first one there since the police station is at that intersection.

Brian Hall 5 years ago

The police station is at Bob Billings and Wakarusa

Sharon Aikins 5 years ago

My only thought is, if I'm not doing anything wrong, what difference will it make? If they record me driving through that intersection a few times a week, so what? If I try to make my license plate unreadable, does it take a photo of just the license plate or part of the car as well? Then they can start stopping everyone who drives a car like mine if they are seriously looking for a suspect. If I had to smile and wave to the camera every time I went through, then I would object. Geez, who wants to do their hair and makeup every time they get into the car? If they start publishing photos with crime stories, I wanna look good in the photo accompanying the story of my arrest. What if I had some broccoli stuck on my teeth?

Bruce Liddel 5 years ago

If the British royal government only taxes our tea here in the colonies, what difference will it make? Learn some history my friend! It's one thing for a merchandiser to use photo surveillance, which the police can subpoena at will whenever convenient, but quite another to keep tabs on every movement of every otherwise law-abiding citizen. Wake up before it is too late!

Joe Hyde 5 years ago

I question the cost-effectiveness of these cameras due to the direction they are facing. They face west so as to photograph the license tags of vehicles leaving town.

If the idea is to involve LPD officers and DCSO deputies in grabbing more bad guys, then point the cameras east. This would give the camera/computer database link a better ability to identify the arrival of known out-of-town bad guys. The system instantly gives LPD and DCSO dispatchers an electronic heads-up that the bad guys are here. Officers could then work a search net and either grab the bad guys outright (if warrants for their arrest are on record), or at least keep them shadowed while they're in town.

Bruce Liddel 5 years ago

There is no cost effectiveness. Taxpayers get the bill, and government largely doesn't give a rat's rear end about what liberty-minded individuals think.

greenworld 5 years ago

So now that everybody knows that they are used for catch robbers and child abducters then they become worthless as everyone now knows and can avoid them. FYI- Dont ever give out the info that is what you were using for as that should have been kept a secret. Also can it track license plates that are expired or driving with no insurance. That seems to be more of a problem then robbers or abducters.

nut_case 5 years ago

Now, to find a couple of these 'crime plate' numbers, fire up Photoshop and print out a few 'license plates', then drive through some cameras.

Alceste 5 years ago

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face -- forever."

doc1 5 years ago

Great idea...... IF there was proper money for it. I'm so freaking sick of our wasted tax dollar on stuff we don't specifically need at the NOW moment.

Bruce Liddel 5 years ago

We don't now, and wont ever need warrantless spying on otherwise presumed innocent citizens, and that's all this is, despite the hype to the contrary about "safety".

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

It's getting to where there will soon be no safe place to deal with nose goblins or adjust your tackle. Every moment you're outside, somebody is watching and taking pictures.

Sigmund 5 years ago

  1. Keep a database of wanted tags.
  2. Capture tag info with camera
  3. Compare to database.
  4. If no match discard tag number.
  5. Else notify dispatch.

jayhawks71 5 years ago

Sure. Just trust that 4 is done, which it won't be.

true_patriot 5 years ago

Actually, all five steps are prone to error. The national no-fly db and the computer purging of voter rolls in Florida and other states are shining examples of how drastically this kind of automation tramples the constitutional rights of Americans in short order.

The founding fathers didn't write the constitution on the basis of "don't do anything wrong and you won't have to worry" because even just the arc of recorded history demonstrates that is utterly false in the long run. They based it on the belief in innate freedom from tyranny, torture and killing, class oppression and economic monopolies imposed by monarchs, governments, and multinational corporations (aka East India Corporation at the time of the Boston Tea Party and subsequent revolution).

The right to privacy springs from these ideals, but of course one person's right ends where others' begin, so the line gets increasingly harder to draw the more complex and dense societies become. This camera makes sense in some ways (a worthy goal), but it also represents another erosion in personal freedom - it doesn't directly affect personal freedom but it's the link in the chain that leads to such.

Once these become common, there will be more cameras and more monitoring and then how much do we pay the people to monitors the cameras and how do we trust them? And then who do we pay to monitor the people monitoring the cameras and how do we trust them? Recurse, rinse, repeat.

Bruce Liddel 5 years ago

A very wise analysis, Sir! (Maam?)

WHY 5 years ago

When will the police install more cameras to watch the police?

Bruce Liddel 5 years ago

Exactly! You don't think Janet Napolitano ges her labia rubbed real hard by a neanderthal whenever she flies commercial do you? Noooooo, this is all about government domination of the subjects, and nothing at all to do with protecting or serving the legitimate needs of the public. We are supposed to cower in fear, and shut up and take our medicine. I'm just not wired that way.

notorious_agenda 5 years ago

Thank you Lawrence PD for putting these test cameras at a place that is "kind of" strategic for amber alert situations. It leads to clinton lake and id be happy to know an abductor with a victim has one less route to get there if we have his plate number... But please do not take my thanks as support for further use of more cameras, or as support of adapted use of these cameras other than looking for emergency crime license plates.

They could have put them at the intersection of K-10 and Harper drive if they were in it for money or had greed for lots of pullovers there, but then the public response would be bad. This is very calculated even how they mounted them. Sneaky

gphawk89 5 years ago

How many security cameras do you see during your average weekend shopping trip? Now, what percentage of those security systems utilize face recognition? That should be much more disturbing than having your license plate snapped at an intersection. I get "recognized" every day I walk into the front entrance at work. Nothing I can do about it. I just try not to think about it.

jayhawks71 5 years ago

So should we all just shut up and take our medicine? I will say that I am more concerned when government tracks innocent citizens. The "if you're doing nothing wrong..." argument also rings hollow with me. Initially, these types of data collection devices are used for their stated purpose, but eventually, someone will think about all that data and how ripe it is for mining.

verity 5 years ago

OK, I realize that a lot of criminals aren't all that bright, but isn't avoiding that intersection the obvious thing to do if you have committed a crime?

Judgesmails 5 years ago

not if you're headed to topeka..

Bruce Liddel 5 years ago

Yes, many criminals will be smart enough to avoid the intersection, as will many law-abiding libertarians like me. Maybe when the gas station goes out of business they will wonder why...

uncleandyt 5 years ago

Public reaction will be determined at a private meeting.

uncleandyt 5 years ago

I took a drive to the intersection and noticed that FreedomCams have also been installed at Inverness and Crossgate and Lawrence Ave. and Kasold and Iowa and, and, and, and,... We are winning the War on Ourselves !!

uncleandyt 5 years ago

oops, I was noticing the gizmos high atop poles, not the behind-the-lights cameras that are the subject of this story, and shall now calm down and retract my freak-out

BorderRuffian 5 years ago

If we could get them to do this at the stadium, maybe we could get some help remembering where we parked...

Bruce Liddel 5 years ago

"It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume...that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact.... They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions. The moment they become aware of a definite citizen, John Doe, seeking what is his right under the law, they begin searching feverishly for an excuse for withholding it from him." --H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic

Sigmund 5 years ago

true_patriot (anonymous) replies… "Actually, all five steps are prone to error. The national no-fly db and the computer purging of voter rolls in Florida and other states are shining examples of how drastically this kind of automation tramples the constitutional rights of Americans in short order."

As all steps for doing anything are "prone to error" this is not a criticism that has any merit. Keeping voter registration, credit reports, no-fly lists, or wanted tags using pen and pencil are also prone to error. No particular method used to maintain lists tramples constitutional rights any more than any another because mistakes might be made in the implementation.

The only constitutional issue is whether or not such lists are permitted, not the methodology. I find no constitutional limitation to observe car tags required by the state to operate on public streets at intersections of public streets and comparing them to a list of wanted tags.

Unless I have missed a recent SCOTUS ruling, there is no expectation of privacy of car tags while driving on public streets.

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