Advances in technology continue to revolutionize policing in important ways.  Three key advancements that are being used today are body-worn cameras, license plate readers, and gunshot detection systems.  You must choose one of these three technologies and find two research articles that evaluate the effectiveness of the technology for policing.  In your answer you must 1) describe the technology, 2) describe the findings from the two articles about whether or not the technology is effective, and 3) discuss any weaknesses or problems with the technology.

license plate readers articles attached

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Advances in technology continue to revolutionize policing in important ways. Three key advancements that are being used today are body-worn cameras, license plate readers, and gunshot detection syste
Community support for licenseplate recognition Linda M. Merola, Cynthia Lum and Breanne Cave Department of Criminology, Law and Society, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA, and Julie Hibdon Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA Abstract Purpose– Although the use of license plate recognition (LPR) technology by police is becoming increasingly common, no empirical studies have examined the legal or legitimacy implications of LPR. LPR may be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from relatively routine checks of stolen vehicles to more complex surveillance functions. The purpose of this paper is to develop a “continuum of LPR uses” that provides a framework for understanding the potential legal and legitimacy issues related to LPR. The paper then analyzes results from the first random-sample community survey on the topic. Design/methodology/approach – Random-sample survey (n¼ 457). Findings – The paper finds substantial support for many LPR uses, although the public also appears to know little about the technology. The survey also reveals that the public does not regard the uses of LPR as equivalent, but rather support is qualified depending upon the use at issue. Originality/value – Previous research has not systematically categorized the wide variety of LPR uses, an oversight which has sometimes led to implicit consideration of these functions as if they are equivalent in their costs and benefits. To assist agencies concerned with community responses to LPR use, the paper points to a number of factors tending to decrease support for LPR, namely, the extent to which a use involves purposes unrelated to vehicle enforcement, the extent to which a function involves prolonged storage of individuals’ travel data, and the extent to which a use is perceived as impacting “average” members of the community. Keywords Police, Community relations, Public perceptions Paper type Research paper Introduction License plate recognition (LPR) technology is rapidly diffusing in policing. In a national survey of police agencies conducted by the authors in September 2009, it was found that 37 percent of large police agencies already used LPR and that nearly one-third of the remaining large agencies planned to acquire it within one year (Lum et al., 2010). Additionally, the technical capacities required for storing individuals’ travel data collected by LPR readers, as well as the ability to link this data with other databases, are similarly expanding. Within this climate of rapid adoption, however, a good deal of speculation exists over the legal and legitimacy implications of LPR use. For example, do certain uses of LPR without a warrant violate the guarantees of US Constitution? Additionally, will privacy concerns or the potential for the unauthorized disclosure of travel data lead to significant decreases in community legitimacy or job approval for law enforcement agencies that choose to adopt this technology? The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1363-951X.htm Received 12 July 2012 Revised 24 September 2012 8 November 2012 Accepted 25 November 2012 Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Vol. 37 No. 1, 2014 pp. 30-51 r Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1363-951X DOI 10.1108/PIJPSM-07-2012-0064 The National Institute of Justice and the Department of the Navy/SPAWAR provided support for this research. Additionally, the authors would like to thank the Fairfax County Police Department for their assistance with this research. 30 PIJPSM 37,1 Despite the pressing need for knowledge about LPR, very few researchers or agencies have examined these issues. For example, as of February 2012, only a handful of law review articles have even briefly discussed the potential legal issues surrounding LPR use (Hubbard, 2008; Rushin, 2011). Even where assessments have been attempted, many are informal in nature and do not rely upon rigorous social scientific techniques of evaluation. In this paper, we conduct the first community survey related to LPR use in order to investigate the public’s views of the technology. Prior to discussion of the survey, however, the next section of this paper describes the technology in more detail, since all readers may not yet be familiar with LPR. Following this, we situate the project within existing research and also provide a brief overview of the relevant legal issues. Additionally, we introduce and discuss a “continuum of LPR uses.” We include this continuum for two reasons. First, it serves as a useful organizing scheme for analyses of LPR. Further, we develop this continuum because the wide variety of LPR uses have not been systematically categorized nor distinguished within the literature to this point. Rather, existing analyses have too often treated the numerous LPR uses as equivalent in their implications or ignored emergent uses which are made possible by increases in the technological capacity of law enforcement. Understanding the characteristics of the range of LPR uses can help researchers to generate more accurate tests of the technology, as well as aid the research and practice communities in thinking about the legal and legitimacy concerns that may arise from varying uses. LPR technology As an operational tool for law enforcement, the license plate reader is a straightforward and easily understood piece of sensory technology. LPRs scan the license plates of moving or parked vehicles while either mounted on a moving patrol car or attached to a fixed location, such as a toll plaza. Once a plate is scanned and its alphanumeric pattern is read by the LPR system, the technology compares the license plate against an existing database of plates that are of interest to law enforcement. Plates “of interest,” for example, might include those on vehicles which have been recently stolen, or whose registered owners have open warrants. When a match is made, a signal alerts the officer to proceed with further confirmation, investigation, and action. Hundreds of cars may be scanned and checked in very short periods of time. LPR technology thereby automates a process that, in the past, was conducted manually, slowly, tag by tag, and with a much discretion. In this manual approach, officers would see a car that appeared suspicious and provide the dispatcher with the plate number, who would then check the plate against a database such as National Crime Information Center to see whether the vehicle was stolen. The dispatcher would radio back to the officer with the status of the vehicle. Over time, it became routine to use in-car computer units – rather than a dispatcher – for this purpose. However, whether carried out through a dispatcher or via a check of in-car computer units, LPRs replace an ad hoc, tag-by-tag approach with an automated and speedy system. In addition to their quick scanning and matching capabilities, LPR is, in a broader sense, an information technology system. These systems can collect and store large amounts of data (most frequently, the time, date, and location of a vehicle’s observation and its plate number)[1] for future record management, analysis, and linking with other databases. For example, license plate numbers collected by a reader mounted on a toll plaza might be stored and then accessed in the future by police to confirm a suspect’s alibi or whereabouts at a particular date and time. Additionally, data might 31 Community support for LPR also be used for predictive purposes. For instance, LPR units could be used to scan and record vehicular activity in front of high-risk locations. Unusual patterns of traffic by one or multiple vehicles that emerge from analyzing collected data might alert agencies to a heightened risk or concern. In theory, with enough saved LPR data, longitudinal information related to places and the activities of individuals could be constructed over time.Because of the sheer volume of tags that LPR can scan in minutes and because of its information technology capabilities, LPR, in theory, can act as a force multiplier for law enforcement engaged in crime prevention and homeland security efforts. However, the effective use of LPR is primarily limited by three factors: the system’s ability to read license plates accurately, the quality and relevance of the other data that may be compared with scanned plates collected by LPR readers, and the way in which police departments deploy the machines. Thus, it follows that improvements and refinements in scanning, data access, and police deployment strategies could potentially improve LPR’s effectiveness in controlling and preventing crime. At the same time, as with many other police tactics, advances in each of these functions can challenge other equally important facets of policing. These include legal concerns about how long data can be stored, to what extent data might be mined or accessed appropriately, the balancing of community values of privacy with security, and the broader concern of continuing police legitimacy within communities. The current state of LPR research and the legal context Although a wide variety of agencies currently use LPR technology, relatively few social scientific studies have focussed on evaluating – or even understanding – its use. The most common type of LPR research has focussed on the functioning of the technology itself – demonstrating its effectiveness in scanning license plates and thereby detecting stolen automobiles in various settings, such as highways, parking lots, or toll booths (e.g. see Home Office, 2007; PA Consulting Group, 2003, 2004)[2]. In addition to these studies, two outcome evaluations measuring LPR’s deterrence effect on automobile and other crimes have recently been conducted in the USA (Lum et al. , 2011; Taylor et al., 2010). Though a limited number of interventions have been tested to date, these studies found no significant evidence of either a general or an offense-specific deterrent effect for LPR. As the LPR continuum discussed below suggests, the various uses of LPR can also present a number of legal and legitimacy challenges to the police. To this point, though, no empirical research has been published on the topic of legitimacy or community concerns related to LPR use. Even with respect to analyses or discussions of the legal issues related to LPR, only a few publications exist (discussed in greater detail below) (IACP, 2009; Hubbard, 2008). To date, a small number of courts have adjudicated cases tangentially involving LPR use, but these opinions represent first attempts by courts to grapple with situations where police have utilized LPR ( Green v. San Francisco, 2011; Machado v. City of New Haven , 2006;New York v. Davila , 2010;US v. Lurry , 2010). Though they exist, these opinions do not provide much guidance to agencies considering LPR adoption because only a very limited number of issues have been raised by the parties to these cases. Practically, this means that it will take some time for the law enforcement community to receive a more definitive answer to the legal questions surrounding LPR policy and use. However, some courts and scholars have examined related issues and technologies which can provide a foundation for our discussion. For example, with respect to the legal 32 PIJPSM 37,1 issues involved, US courts have repeatedly adjudicated challenges to manual license plate checks by individual police officers and consistently held these checks to be constitutionally permissible (US v. Ellison,2006;US v. Walraven ,1989;US v. Matthews , 1980). These decisions hold that individuals possess no “constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy” in their license plates ( Katz v. US, 1967, p. 360), since driving is a public activity. While on the road, the license plate must legally remain in public view at all times, a factor which most courts have viewed as dispositive ( US v. Diaz-Castaneda , 2007, pp. 1150-1151; US v. Ellison, 2006, pp. 561-562; Olabisiomotosho v. Houston , 1999, p. 529;US v. Walraven, 1989, p. 974). At first glance, these arguments might also seem to resolve the constitutional issues related to privacy and the use of LPR. Yet, when the issues surrounding the use of automated LPR technology (as opposed to individual, manual license plate checks) are examined, the courts may raise additional concerns. Indeed, though one might argue that LPR technology simply automates a process that could be carried out legally by individual officers (IACP, 2009, p. 12; Hubbard, 2008, pp. 6-9), this assertion relies on the fact that there are no significant legal distinctions between individual officers checking license plates by hand and the use of LPR. Additionally, if translated into policy, this contention is also premised on the notion that the widespread use of LPR would not have disparate effects on police legitimacy, job approval, or community perceptions. On the contrary, a number of authors have argued that there are substantial differences between manual checks and the deployment of LPR, even with respect to the most common use of the technology, that of detecting stolen vehicles (Hubbard, 2008). For example, Hubbard (2008) argues that LPR use does not merely make an officer’s job more efficient and less costly, but that it also allows the police to acquire new abilities that no human officer could possess, such as “[reading] license plates at 60 mph and at night” (p. 34). Hubbard points to a number of Supreme Court cases in which the justices have expressed concerns about the use of increasingly invasive technologies by police ( Dow Chemical Co. v. US , 1986;Kyllo v. US , 2001). Courts may raise similar concerns in the context of future proceedings related to LPR. Moreover, while this “automation” argument might possibly resolve the constitutional issues involved with some uses of LPR, it does not fully address the act of linking LPR data to other databases or the preservation of individuals’ travel data for extended periods of time by police. This distinction provides a useful illustration of the importance of the continuum of LPR uses (presented below). A single check of a license plate and the widespread and varied uses of LPR may be viewed differently by the public and by future courts adjudicating LPR issues for the reasons discussed in the next paragraphs. The continuum represents a clearer framework for agencies considering LPR adoption and also underscores the potential for disparate legal and legitimacy implications connected with different uses. For example, as we will see, additional uses of LPR involve connecting a license plate to an individual’s motor vehicle records or connecting the license plate number with tertiary data unrelated to motor vehicles through the use of state motor vehicle databases. These functions may be viewed as distinct from other LPR uses because they involve linking LPR data to specific individuals and their records. As others have acknowledged, this may greatly increase the chance of harm to individuals in the community and may raise serious legitimacy issues if LPR data is misused or accessed illegally (IACP, 2009, pp. 11-12). Courts and members of the community may be unwilling to allow the connection of LPR travel information with the information 33 Community support for LPR contained in some other databases without any suspicion of wrongdoing by the individual.Indeed, though not a US Supreme Court case, there is some support for this notion in the case law. In State v. Donis(1998, p. 40), the New Jersey Supreme Court held that it was not permissible for police officers to use the mobile data terminals (MDT) in their patrol cars to obtain the registered owner’s personal information contained in the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles database without “reason to suspect wrongdoing.” Like the MDT searches that concerned the New Jersey Supreme Court, the linking of LPR data to other types of data involves the examination of personal data by the police and might be restricted by future court decisions if some individualized suspicion of wrongdoing is absent. Further, another distinct issue is raised by the collection and prolonged storage by law enforcement of a large quantity of data about citizens (many of whom have committed no crime). It is this momentum toward large scale, routine data storage by police that makes LPR truly unique in comparison with previous police activities. Significantly, as more data is amassed over time, data storage may also implicate the most significant risks to the community through unauthorized or improper disclosure (IACP, 2009, p. 17). And, the decision to save LPR data may involve some particularly nuanced privacy issues because data storage could eventually make it possible for police to recreate the daily activities of specific individuals through LPR data. These potential increases in the generalized surveillance capabilities of police would seem to implicate similar issues to those discussed very recently by the US Supreme Court. In US v. Jones (2012), the court unanimously determined that the Constitution prohibits the warrantless placement by police of a beeper on a private automobile in order to track a citizen’s movements over an extended period. Though this case related to tracking by beepers (and not tracking through the use of LPR data), five justices expressed specific concerns about recent advances in technology that may greatly increase the surveillance capabilities of the police ( US v. Jones, 2012, pp. 26-29, 47-51). And, they specifically noted the seriousness of these concerns, even while recognizing the many previous court decisions holding that individuals do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy on the roads ( US v. Jones, 2012, pp. 20-21). In future cases, if the Court wished to, it could affirm the use of LPR, by distinguishing its use from the warrantless use of beepers declared impermissible in Jones . To do this, the court would need to emphasize the fact that beeper tracking involves an actual trespass by police into an individual’s belongings (in order to place the tracker on the vehicle), while LPR does not. In fact, this point seemed important to the votes of four justices in US v. Jones. However, for five of the justices ( Justices Sotomayor, Alito, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan), this did not seem to be a key distinction upon which the Jonesdecision turned. Rather, these justices expressed unease regarding potential violations of privacy and increased police surveillance capabilities, concerns that seem to translate into the LPR context. Indeed, these five justices could form a majority in future decisions related specifically to limits on the use of LPR or other potential tools of warrantless surveillance. On a conceptual level, it seems more difficult to argue that LPR uses which involve data storage do not reflect a departure from our current notions of privacy. Police clearly do not presently store large quantities of data about citizens’ daily activities for extended periods of time. Authors writing about the privacy issues inherent in LPR have forcefully argued that the saving of LPR data should be viewed as distinct because these functions involve more than investigations of those suspected of 34 PIJPSM 37,1 breaking the law (Hubbard, 2008). Rather, these uses “track innocent people in the event that they may commit, or be involved in, a crime in the future [y] ” (Hubbard, 2008, p. 28). As we will see below, LPR systems may indeed be used for proactive or predictive purposes. Moreover, by storing data about the movements of individual vehicles, LPR systems may allow police to discern much more than the criminal activities of individuals. Stored travel data may convey a great deal of information about who an individual associates with, which doctors or religious services she visits, which protests she participates in, and even which political party she belongs to. Normally, these activities are “dispersed over space and time,” so police officers cannot see them all at once (Reiman, 1995, p. 29). However, the collection and storage of data may bring many of these bits of information together on one system or connected systems. This is a strong argument for considering the functions involving prolonged data storage to be – at the very least – conceptually distinct from those involving the immediate use and erasure of data. The IACP has cautioned that inaccurate data or even data taken out of context may yield an erroneous picture to law enforcement, an occurrence that may actually hinder investigations (IACP, 2009, pp. 12, 14; Solove et al., 2006, p. 522). Misleading data stored for an extended period may also be very difficult for individuals to refute, since people normally do not keep detailed records of their activities and may not remember their locations once time has passed. Finally, it is also possible that LPR could impact the exercise of other rights or lead to changes in individual behaviors as members of the community realize that their daily activities could be routinely recorded, preserved, or even used against them as evidence (IACP, 2009, p. 16). A goal of LPR is to discourage the commission of illegal acts, but widespread use of the technology may also lead individuals to suppress unpopular, unconventional, or embarrassing actions that are not illegal (Reiman, 1995, p. 35). For example, courts and community members may be concerned that it is difficult for individuals to exercise First Amendment rights, such as through participation in a rally or demonstration, without traveling to do so (IACP, 2009, p. 14). In this way, the implications of LPR may stretch beyond law enforcement or even privacy concerns to potentially influence a wider variety of legal behavior by members of the public. The continuum of LPR uses as a framework for analysis As indicated above, license plate readers have a range of functions; these include the scanning of passing cars to check if they are stolen, as well as the potential storage of data about vehicular movements to access locations of vehicles at a later date. Each potential type of LPR use may be associated with distinct benefits (such as deterrence and crime prevention) and distinct costs. Costs might include legal challenges or a reduction in the community’s view of police legitimacy. Since legal and legitimacy issues may be contingent upon the type of LPR use involved, potential benefits and costs need to be categorized by researchers and agencies in a way that can match uses with potential implications. This step is all the more crucial because agencies are currently acquiring LPR units quickly and at a substantial cost, and promulgating policy in a low-information environment. The development of a continuum of uses for LPR can provide a tangible framework for aiding agencies as they consider adopting and deploying LPR readers. Figure 1 presents one possible continuum of LPR use. Each category (or space on the continuum) represents a type of LPR use. As one moves farther to the right of the 35 Community support for LPR continuum, additional legal and legitimacy concerns seem likely to be raised by the uses of LPR located there. Moreover, the intensity of these concerns may increase exponentially as uses become more predictive in nature. Specific points along the continuum (1) Primary use: auto theft and cars of interest. This use of LPR involves an immediate check of a motorist’s license plate in order to detect whether that vehicle or license plate has been stolen or whether the particular vehicle is the subject of a search related to an investigation. We characterize this scenario as an “immediate” use of LPR because existing data that already identifies stolen vehicles is accessed, and the data collected from the LPR reader need not be stored for any length of time in order to perform this function. Research suggests that this is the way in which license plate readers are most frequently used by law enforcement agencies (Lumet al., 2010). According to a survey of agencies conducted by the authors in 2009, 91.4 percent of agencies with LPR use the technology for this purpose (Lum et al., 2010). Since this use of LPR does not necessitate data storage, it also seems reasonable to hypothesize that this function might raise the fewest privacy concerns or challenges to police legitimacy. Even with respect to this use of LPR, however, there are some arguments for considering this location on the continuum as conceptually distinct from traditional manual checks of license plates. For example, the argument has been made that the deployment of this technology represents more than simple automation or mere efficiency gains because the technology allows law enforcement to accomplish acts outside of human capabilities (Hubbard, 2008; Reiman, 1995). For example, the use of LPR allows officers to check license plates when it might be too dark outside for the human eye to see or even on the freeway when passing cars are going too fast for the human eye to register a license plate number (Hubbard, 2008). For these reasons, even the most common uses of LPR may be viewed by some members of the community as a departure from manual checks of license plates and, as a result, even these uses may have implications for police legitimacy. (2) Connection of LPR data with a secondary data source . The complexity of LPR use increases as one moves to the right of the continuum. The next likely use of LPR Primary Use Tertiary Data Mining PredictiveAnalysis Magnitude of Concern/Challenges Complexity of LPR Use Connection with Secondary Data Source Data Collection and Storage for Proactive Use Figure 1. Continuum of LPR uses 36 PIJPSM 37,1 involves the connection of scanned license plates to a secondary data source associated with those plates, usually the linking of LPR data with records from a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Therefore, at this step on the continuum, information from the LPR readers is connected for the first time to an actual individual (the registered owner of the vehicle) and then to that owner’s motor vehicle record. Unpaid parking tickets, lack of insurance, and other traffic-related delinquencies might be accessed. As a practical matter, the use of LPR technology at this step on the continuum also begins to raise issues of personal security for individuals in the community, since LPR data has now been linked with a specific individual. Prior to LPR systems, manual approaches also routinely required motor vehicle records to be accessed by police in the investigation of traffic and other offenses. The advent of LPR alters this only in the fact that these records would be accessed in an automated fashion and, perhaps over time, on a much larger scale as LPR use becomes more widespread. In addition to those suspected of a violation or a crime, the LRP data from law-abiding individuals might also be checked against existing databases of the types mentioned in the last paragraph. Most importantly, since LPR data would be linked with information about specific individuals via the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles database, this step on the continuum heightens the need for stringent standards for data handling. (3) Tertiary data mining . The third location on the continuum involves further data linking, this time connecting LPR data with tertiary databases not directly related to vehicle enforcement by using motor vehicle information to identify persons of interest. Prior to LPR, an investigation may have involved the police running a tag for a vehicle’s registered owner and then checking for the existence of an open warrant for the owner’s arrest. LPR certainly accelerates and automates this function. However, LPR use is not limited to checks for open warrants. Rather, the functions of license plate readers that fall into this third category can vary widely. For example, data that might be cross-checked against LPR data includes the license plates of vehicles owned by registered sex offenders, by individuals delinquent in the payment of child support, by recently released violent offenders, or even by individuals arrested for selling drugs around schools or public parks. In addition to helping to investigate or locate these individuals generally, vehicles with LPR may be deployed to patrol around specific locations, such as schools and parks. All of these LPR uses are similar, however, in that they involve the connection of LPR data to other data sources, but for law enforcement purposes unrelated to motor vehicles or vehicular enforcement . Novel legitimacy issues may arise precisely because the police have now used LPRs for functions other than law enforcement related to vehicles or traffic. Since LPR is not being employed as a technological tool for more efficient traffic or vehicular enforcement at this space on the continuum, members of the public could view these uses as promoting the acquisition of more generalized surveillance capabilities by the police. Thus, it seems a reasonable hypothesis that the use of LPRs for these functions may heighten the likelihood that LPR adoption will impact police legitimacy, community approval, or other facets of police-community relations. Moreover, even within this category, different uses may evoke varying responses. For example, members of the community may view sex offenses as grave enough to warrant the use of LPR to prevent individuals who have committed these crimes from entering school zones. Yet, the community might not tolerate other uses where the perceived benefits are too few or the perceived intrusions into the personal lives of community members seem too great. Though some authors writing on this topic have 37 Community support for LPR suggested hypotheses about the likelihood that some uses might be accepted over others, these hypotheses have not yet been tested through survey or other research. These differences are examined in greater detail in the community survey results, presented below.(4) Data collection and storage for proactive use . This step on the continuum involves the long-term preservation of data from LPR readers for future investigative purposes. For example, during an investigation, saved LPR data might demonstrate that a suspect’s vehicle traveled to a certain location. Alibis of suspects might also be corroborated or challenged from the information captured by LPR units placed at toll roads or near locations where an individual claimed to be. Yet, others have highlighted the potential negative consequences of this type of data retention, for example, that saved data may also prejudice the investigatory process against an individual. This is a concern because LPR information may be presumed to be correct even in instances when the data may be misleading. For instance, if an LPR unit records the presence of a vehicle at a particular location, this does not necessarily mean that the registered owner was driving the vehicle at the time. Additionally, after time has passed, it may be difficult for an individual to combat an assumption that the data presents an accurate picture of daily activities, since individuals do not normally keep detailed records of their day-to-day routines. Additionally, data storage raises an even more serious potential for abuse through either hacking or misuse; as a result, rigorous testing of policy in this area of the continuum is critical. Members of the community may also hold very strong opinions regarding whether or not this information should be considered private and even if data of this type should be col

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