Local News

'PROBE' Technology Allows Police To Scan License Plates For Criminals

Posted June 1, 2004

— Sometimes the best way to stay a step ahead of crime is to leap forward with technology. A Cary contractor says he can help police get the jump on lawbreakers, even terrorists, all with the click of a mouse.

The PROBE system uses a camera plugged into a laptop computer. As an officer patrols the area, a license plate is scanned and entered into a database. If that plate is unregistered, stolen or belongs to a wanted criminal, an alarm alerts the officer.

The alarm also kicks in if the plate shows up on the Homeland Security terrorist list.

"The officer doesn't have to look at the system at all. He can be doing his paperwork or doing other types of law enforcement and the system will be monitoring every vehicle that passes by him without him doing anything," contractor Ray Fricker said.

Law enforcement officers are not the only ones who could soon use the technology. Gas stations could use the PROBE technology to catch people who drive off without paying.

No matter how the PROBE system is used, some critics may argue that it is just more big brother watching, but backers of the system say there is something more important at stake.

"Monitor, control, track and help deny criminals the use of the roads," Fricker said.

Raleigh police plan to test one of the PROBE units in the near future. The Highway Patrol and several local departments are also interested. The technology is already in use by the California Highway Patrol.

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