In a recent blog post Mayor Friedberg explains that the “The City of Bellaire will soon be installing automated license plate readers (ALPRs) along major thoroughfares to assist police in apprehending suspects and solving crimes.”
This project is “funded by the by the Bellaire Police and Fire Foundation as a pilot project, the system will be evaluated over an initial one-year period to determine whether it will be continued in future police department budgets.”
The Mayor states that “ALPRs are widely used by law enforcement agencies across the country. Special cameras are mounted on poles in the right-of-way, and are motion activated to capture the license plates of vehicles passing by. That information is then transmitted wirelessly and run through a national database to identify, in real time, “hot list” vehicles that have been reported stolen, are wanted in connection with a crime, or are associated with AMBER or Silver Alerts. Officers are notified within seconds when there’s a positive hit, and will then visually verify the match before making a stop.”
Bellaire police can use the systems as as an investigative tool after a crime has been committed. To safeguard privacy, “license plate images will be accessible to authorized personnel for law enforcement purposes only through an agency-specific web interface, and will be deleted after 30 days.”
This system differs from West University’s “virtual gate” in that it will not have surveillance cameras at city entrances.
See the Mayor’s full blog post here.
In mid-December 2020 the first cameras were deployed and by December 31, 2020 there were 117,194 plates read. The data collected is used to further police investigations and identify suspect vehicles wanted in connection with criminal incidents. The ALPR is a one-year pilot program at the end of which it will be determined if the program is suspended or expanded.