A Vehicle Identifier

A Vehicle Identifier

Corman Park Police increase identification by 400 percent

Corman Park is one of the largest rural municipalities surrounding Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The Corman Park Police aims to protect and serve its diverse community using the safest and most effective means possible. Its officers work 12-hour shifts, patrolling the community, responding to calls for service and assisting the federal police in criminal offenses and apprehensions.

John Garnet, chief at Corman Park Police, knew that technology could help the officers become more efficient on their dayto- day patrols.

“We were issuing a lot of speeding tickets, but our officers had no way of identifying unregistered vehicles, suspended drivers or wanted people unless they happened to pull them over for a traffic violation or noticed unusual behavior,” Garnet said. “It was almost by chance.”

After attending a provincial law enforcement event and seeing automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) technology in action, Garnet set out to acquire a system. He approached Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), the body responsible for organizing provincial policing programs, and applied for a new grant that funded ALPR systems for qualifying agencies.

“Because we primarily handle traffic enforcement, they understood our reasons for wanting the solution and granted our request,” Garnet said.

SGI funded one AutoVu automatic license plate recognition system by Genetec Inc., which was installed on a Corman Park Police patrol vehicle.

ROI in Two Months

After a successful one-day installation and quick user training by Genetec, officers were ready to hit the road.

“We started identifying a large number of unregistered vehicles, suspended drivers and people of interest,” Garnet said. “We were executing more warrants for suspects who have vehicles registered on the Canadian Police Information Center (CPIC) database.”

The increase in the number of identified vehicles was so dramatic, that the Corman Park Police generated revenues that covered the cost of the system in two months.

“We are identifying an average of 130 unregistered vehicles and 50 suspended drivers per month,” Garnet said. “That’s a 400 percent increase over what we were doing before. It used to be an 8:1 ratio of speeding tickets versus other infractions, and now all of sudden, it’s the opposite. This was when we knew it was a game-changer.”

Garnet used these statistics to approach the police commission and council for a second system, and it was quickly approved.

“The decision was easy to make since we knew that we could achieve a complete cost recovery in a couple of months and keep our community safer,” Garnet said.

Enhancing Officer Effectiveness, Safety

Today, the Corman Park Police has two patrol cars each equipped with a three-camera ALPR system. Soon, they will be getting a third. On each vehicle, two cameras face forward and a third camera faces behind. As officers patrol their routes, the ALPR system automatically captures the license plates of vehicles coming from both directions. The system compares all plate reads to a national policing database, and alerts officers of offending vehicles.

“The system has significantly increased the effectiveness of our patrolling officers,” Garnet said. “If the vehicle is entered into the CPIC database, we’ll get a hit. The system lets us know what we are dealing with, providing a different alarm tone and onscreen color for each type of hit. This helps our officers from a personal safety perspective, allowing them to delay a vehicle check until back-up is around during potentially dangerous encounters.”

Day or night, and during the snowy and cold winter months in Saskatchewan, the Corman Park Police rely on AutoVu to accurately identify wanted vehicles. Officers either park alongside roadways or drive around on patrol routes. They also have the option to manually enter specific plate numbers for vehicles they are looking for.

“There’s no way in the world that an officer can read every plate driving towards him,” Garnet said. “Now, AutoVu does it for them. It’s checking every single plate that they pass.”

Keeping Public Safety a Top Priority

When officers return to the Corman Park Police precinct, all data is downloaded to the main servers and the CPIC database is updated via Wi-Fi. Garnet uses the Security Center platform to investigate. He also pulls reports to better understand the performance of the system and relays information back to SGI who compiles data to justify program investments.

“Every police agency should have an ALPR system,” Garnet said. “Driving around and hoping to identify wanted vehicles or people of interest just by chance is ineffective. Offending or suspended drivers and vehicles need to be removed from our roads because they are a hazard to our community.”

This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Security Today.

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