Permanent camera allows Denver police to scan license plates

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DENVER -- The Denver Police Department is expanding its use of technology with the goal of catching violent criminals faster.

The city installed its first permanent license plate reader at West Sixth Avenue and Federal Boulevard.

The license plate reader program has been in place since 2015. Police have 11 attached to patrol vehicles, but this is the first permanent installation of the technology in the city.

The system autonomously searches for license plates that are associated with violent crimes and serious alerts.

It can also track stolen vehicles and those involved with hit-and-runs.

In the first six weeks of the program's inception in 2015, 71 arrests were made.

Police say they capture the data for the sole purpose of identifying crime.

"The reason why we put the one at Sixth and Federal is because that's where our data suggested would be the best location to put it," police spokesman Ron Thomas said.

"There's been a number of hit-and-runs in the area, a number of vehicles stolen in the area. So we thought that was a strategic location.

"We've had a good deal of success with the mobile license plate readers, the ones that are tied to vehicles. We've been able to identify and locate a number of stolen vehicles and vehicles wanted in connection with violent crimes, so it has been a successful program."

Police say the license plate readers can also identify canceled or suspended licenses, but that's not its primary purpose.

Police say at this point there are no plans to install another permanent camera in the city.

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