REGINA – If any Saskatchewan RCMP detachment or municipal police agencies want more license plate readers for their fleet, they just have to call SGI.
“It’s like an investment in road safety,” said Kelley Brinkworth, media relations manager for SGI.
Thanks to the crown organization, there are currently 13 readers in use in the province. The first was introduced in 2004. SGI has invested $485,000 into the readers, which also includes installation fees.
The readers can alert officers to suspended drivers, stolen and unregistered vehicles, etc.
SGI hopes having the $20,000 cameras constantly on alert may pick up potentially serious cases.
“Let’s say a drunk driver that police can stop, apprehend immediately and take them off the road. That’s potential lives saved,” said Brinkworth.
Trevor Bonnell, a nearly 15-year veteran with the RCMP, has used the cameras. He credits the cameras with providing a “massive increase” in productivity.
“It’s just speeding up better than what we can do with our human eyes, especially while we’re patrolling, more than what we have time to do while we’re driving the vehicle,” he said. “It really helps finding the bad guy.”
The technology can read one licence plate every second.
“The concerns that people may have about privacy, we also share,” said Bonnell.
The readers take photos of all license plates nearby, but only images of cars flagged for a legitimate reason are put into the RCMP’s systems via a USB key after an officer’s shift is over.
Regina police have two cars equipped with the technology, which have caught hundreds of drivers for various reasons.
“These are the kind of people you don’t want on the road,” said Regina Police Service Sgt. Ian Barr.