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Boston Police Stop Scanning Registration Plates, For Now

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the expurgated-version dept.

Crime 110

Ars Technica reports that after journalists gained access to a database readout showing a sample of the data gathered by the 14 registration plate scanners that had been in use by the Boston police and analyzed some of that data with embarrassing results, the police force has announced it will suspend use of the scanners indefinitely. Among other things, the data dump (which was not quite as thoroughly scrubbed as the police department had intended it to be) showed that a stolen motorcycle was detected by the cameras 59 times and red-flagged, but evidently no action was taken to recover it.

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110 comments

Boston PD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691377)

Hm.

Re:Boston PD (1)

game kid (805301) | about 7 months ago | (#45691445)

Among other things, the data dump (which was not quite as thoroughly scrubbed as the police department had intended it to be) showed that a stolen motorcycle was detected by the cameras 59 times and red-flagged, but evidently no action was taken to recover it.

I hope this isn't what they mean if they call the police there "Boston Strong".

Re:Boston PD (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691539)

The Boston Police had to shut down the entire city in order to catch an unarmed, injured teenager that was slowly bleeding to death. And they never even found him, a citizen found him only when the police deigned to let him out of his house.

Then the people cheered the police for their "heroic" efforts in wasting an entire city's day for no results.

That's "Boston Strong" - wasting massive amounts of money to get no results, when simply not even trying would have allowed normal people to accomplish the goal immediately. And then being smug about it. There's a reason nothing of any worth comes out of Boston.

Re:Boston PD (3, Funny)

glavenoid (636808) | about 7 months ago | (#45691575)

one word: Mooninites

Re:Boston PD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691621)

Mooninites were like five years ago and no one praised them for their incompetence. The whole "let's close down a city where we know the guy isn't" was this year, and people (even on Slashdot, even Bruce Schneier) supported them on that one. Mooninites was funny, but it was nowhere near as pathetic as the response to the Boston marathon bombing.

Re:Boston PD (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 7 months ago | (#45692291)

All the while, remember that. in-spite of the FBI having been handed a dossier on the bombers by the Russians and the NSA continuous 24/7 indexing all cellular call metadata and monitoring all overseas calls, the intelligence apparatus of the entire US government was clueless about who these guys were.

Re:Boston PD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45697605)

All the while, remember that. in-spite of the FBI having been handed a dossier on the bombers by the Russians and the NSA continuous 24/7 indexing all cellular call metadata and monitoring all overseas calls, the intelligence apparatus of the entire US government was clueless about who these guys were.

Do you have any idea how many false leads they were given by the Russians? I don't, but I'm sure it is a very large number. They say hindsight is 20/20 for a reason. It's easy to say, "Here's the clue you missed." when you know which clue out of billions is the right one.

Re:Boston PD (1)

icebike (68054) | about 7 months ago | (#45697859)

For terrorists, Russian cooperation has actually been very good. They have every reason to cooperate, because they are being hit by the same terrorists.

But you missed the fact that the FBI sent someone out to interview these guys. They came back and reported seeing nothing, and that is where the followup Stopped. No monitoring, no phone taps, even after the older one subsequently traveled back to the home country and disappeared for a couple months.

Re:Boston PD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45700765)

And had they tapped his phone after a negative interview, /.tards would shriek about the violation of his rights.

Re:Boston PD (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about 7 months ago | (#45692063)

There's a reason nothing of any worth comes out of Boston.

(1) the band Boston
(2) Bill Burr

Re:Boston PD (2, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 7 months ago | (#45692135)

There's a reason nothing of any worth comes out of Boston.

Except, you know, the internet. [wikipedia.org]
But yeah, nothing of any real worth.

Re:Boston PD (3, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 7 months ago | (#45692461)

That's nothing compared to Claude Shannon's master's thesis which laid out the use of boolean logic to solve general problems.

Here's a list (just from MIT, which is one of the 100 or so universities in Metro Boston).

1802 -- Modern navigation -- Bowditch
1886 -- Management consulting -- Little
1901 -- Disposable safety razor -- Gillette et al.
1914 -- "Tech"nicolor -- Founded in Boston by Kalmus et al.
1919 -- Trans-Atlantic aircraft -- Hunsaker et al.
1929- -- Instant photography (Polaroid) -- Land
1931 -- Stroboscopy -- Edgerton, Germeshausen et al.
1937 -- Use of Boolean logic to design "digital" circuits -- Shannon
1940-45 -- Practical radar -- Anglo-American military collaboration at MIT
1944 -- Mark I/II computers and first computer "bug" -- Aiken, Hopper et al.
1945 -- Hypertext -- Vannevar Bush
1951 -- Huffman code
1951 -- Random access memory ("core")-- Project Whirlwind
1953 -- PET scan -- Brownell
1953- -- Doppler radar -- Gordon
1956- -- Chomsky hierarchy
1957- -- Generative grammar -- Chomsky
1957 -- Confocal microscope -- MInsky
1957-61 -- Time-sharing (and some of what we now call virtualization) -- Project MAC
1958 -- LISP -- McCarthy
1961 -- Chaos theory -- Lorenz (and many others)
1961-2 -- Digital videogame (Spacewar!) -- Graetz, Russel, Wiitanen, Kotok
1963 -- CAD -- Sutherland
1964 -- Minicomputer -- DEC
1964-5 -- Electronic mail -- Van Vleck / Morris on CTSS (also network email, Tomlinson in 1971)
1969 -- Apollo guidance computer that navigated to and landed on moon -- Instrumentation (now Draper) Laboratory
1970-90 -- Object-oriented programming and data hiding -- Liskov (and many others)
1972 -- Packet-switching and ARPANET -- Kahn, BBN, etc.
1973 -- Black-Scholes option pricing model -- Black, Scholes, Merton
1978 -- Practical public-key cryptography (RSA) -- Rivest, Shamir, Adelman
1979 -- Spreadsheet -- Bricklin and Frankston
1981-89 -- Copyleft/sharealike, GNU and free software movement -- Stallman
1995- - E-ink -- Jacobsen et al.
2000 -- Zipcar -- Danielson, Chase

Re: Boston PD (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692975)

Apart from all of that...what has Boston given us?

Re:Boston PD (2)

C0R1D4N (970153) | about 7 months ago | (#45693147)

MIT would have given us that even if they were in Michigan or Minnesota. MIT is more distinct from Boston than the Vatican is from Rome.

Re:Boston PD (1)

Sique (173459) | about 7 months ago | (#45694525)

You mean, MIT is some small territory which was contractually separated from the surrounding town, and the head of the MIT is still the spiritual leader of the majority of Boston? Just because the State of Vatican was founded in 1929 in the Lateran Treaty between the Catholic Church and Italy, and the Pope is still the bishop of Rome.

Re:Boston PD (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | about 7 months ago | (#45694549)

Nope, in fact I said it was MORE distinct. It was more a suggestion that MIT is an enclave within Boston.

Re:Boston PD (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 7 months ago | (#45697217)

1958 -- LISP -- McCarthy

Wait, I thought this list was supposed to be of things that changed the world in a good way.

2000 -- Zipcar -- Danielson, Chase

And I'm sure I'm not the first to say, wtf is a zipcar? The world-changing... not so much, in that case.

Re:Boston PD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45698431)

And I'm sure I'm not the first to say, wtf is a zipcar? The world-changing... not so much, in that case.

It's a car rental place. You know, like Hertz or Enterprise?

Yes, that's right, in the minds of Bostards, they "invented" renting cars in 2000.

Re:Boston PD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45696401)

Really? I didn't know Boston was in California.

The Internet was started as the APRANET between several colleges in California. It most certainly did not involve Boston.

The fact that one of the defense contractors doing the work was headquartered near Boston has nothing to do with the fact that all the actual work happened in California. But nice try.

Re:Boston PD (4, Insightful)

OhPlz (168413) | about 7 months ago | (#45692199)

That's "Boston Strong" - wasting massive amounts of money to get no results, when simply not even trying would have allowed normal people to accomplish the goal immediately. And then being smug about it. There's a reason nothing of any worth comes out of Boston.

While I have no love for the Commonwealth, I think you're way off here. The reason a citizen found flash-bang (the kid) hiding in the boat was because the police had driven him into hiding. The other brother was killed while trying to escape the police. If not for the actions taken, those two might still be out and about planning who knows what.

Re:Boston PD (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 7 months ago | (#45693219)

Yes, if the police had done absolutely nothing, the two brothers would still be out planning who knows what.

Obviously, the only other alternative to this was to shut the entire city down looking for two...er...one man.

Just like the NSA. It's either collect every scrap of data on everyone on the planet, or sit on their thumbs as the terrorists walk in and take over the country. There is no middle ground.

Re:Boston PD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45693753)

Europe or the Ivory Coast

Re:Boston PD (1)

Patent Lover (779809) | about 7 months ago | (#45697205)

Yes, he could have just walked around freely even though the entire nation had seen his face on every web page and newspaper in the country.

Re: Boston PD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692533)

Wow +3 for insightful? Where are the mods? This is flamebait at its finest.

Re:Boston PD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45695129)

WTF? Yeah, nothing like biotech, education, sports, arts...you're kind of an idiot.

Re:Boston PD (1)

Patent Lover (779809) | about 7 months ago | (#45697181)

Don't forget the heroic efforts of the Cape Cod SWAT team. I wish I was making this up.

Re:Boston PD (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691603)

DUTY TO SERVE

Basic Math. IF 40 Million, and 1 ,001% hit rate (one in a thousand will be too low) that's 40,000 actionable interventions required.
Divided by 366 days = 109 IPD Now 14 squad cars, so they should be pulling in 7.7 flagged cars each, per day.
Rego and license, assuming the offender can pay would NOT pay the running cost of 14 squad cars with 2 officers each, with overtime long shifts and whatnot, paperwork, court appearances etc. Assuming they were overworked to begin with.
Journalists should be asking these questions and checking ballpark results match.

This means the person who signed off and approved the project, or committee, need to be demoted or removed, because they are involved in suppressing 40,000 offenses, including some of their own. Maybe they should outsource to rent a cops inc.

Furthermore, the 'computer' can pinpoint the likely route, so it should not be much effort to pick up, say the motorcycle dude, unless it is common practice for undercover cops to use stolen, uninsured motor vehicles..

Re:Boston PD (1)

gravis777 (123605) | about 7 months ago | (#45696571)

Sounds more like some cops need to be fired. They have also said to the country that if you want a place to hide your stolen vehicles, Boston is the place to go

Pishh! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691407)

A stolen motorcycle? Ain't nobody got time for that. Citizen, we have more important issues than a stolen motorcycle. Now, stop hitting my club with your head!

Re: we have more important issues (2)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about 7 months ago | (#45691495)

They sure do. Like preventing the Mooninites from bombing the subway.

Re: we have more important issues (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691565)

Or closing down the entire city, costing untold billions of dollars is lost productivity, to fail to catch an unarmed, injured teenager. One that they had literally been flat-out told was planning a terrorist attack prior to said attack, but was entirely ignored until after they caught him and realized they'd been told to watch out for him. That's Boston Strong.

Re: we have more important issues (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691601)

don't forget the time they shutdown the city over a sponge bob square pants lite brite.

Re: we have more important issues (2)

Z34107 (925136) | about 7 months ago | (#45693005)

Shut down everything

I think Boston is America's Madagascar.

Re: we have more important issues (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 months ago | (#45693097)

Now look here citizen, you'd be really sorry if Sponge Bob Square pants really was out there bombing the subway! Now stop smearing your blood over my boot!

Re: we have more important issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45694225)

Technically it was a mooninite [wikipedia.org] . *Much* more dangerous than a sponge.

Re: we have more important issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45697423)

I doubt women working on myfreecams lost productivity that day...

Re: we have more important issues (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 months ago | (#45692883)

You'd be pretty fucking sorry if the authorities hadn't put a stop to the Mooninite invasion, pal.

Fucking alien-loving pinko

Re:Pishh! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691581)

Exactly. Recovering stolen property is the least of the concerns for police officers. They are working people and doing a job. That job is to bring in revenue. This motorcycle was not caught speeding so no ticket could be written up to fill out some paychecks. Therefor, it is irrelevant.

To increase profits, the city of Botston will be converting these LPRs into red light cameras. It's a win-win situation. The city gets more money from writing tickets, and you get to be proud knowing that you're helping the city without even needing to increase taxes! What's not to like?

Re:Pishh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45699029)

We are the customer for the police and by not recovering stolen property, we are not being served. This proves that police are useless, so we need to cut taxes and starve the beast until the police stop writing me speeding tickets all the times to steal my money and start getting these little fuckers that keep spray painting my building and beating some sense into them.

The police have no ability to control motorcycles? (1)

thepainguy (1436453) | about 7 months ago | (#45691411)

I could have told you that based on how they handle, or don't, the guys who go racing up and down the highway at 100+MPH and who obstruct highway traffic to do their tricks.

It's pathetic, not to mention a menace.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691463)

I do not ride a motorcycle, but I've had friends that do, and as they explained to me once, you can pretty easily avoid the police on one in a lot of situations.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691811)

It's even easier on a bicycle. You can hop fences while carrying one, cross woods, swamps, go on roads, sidewalks, through brush. Been there, done that, with cops behind me. A bicycle is pretty much the ultimate tool if you're trying to avoid a small amount of cops.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (-1, Troll)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#45692217)

It should be a felony to run from the police, and police should be able to stop a felony in progress with deadly force. Then it'd be much easier to stop you on a bicycle.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692323)

I think I like things the way they are--who knows why you're running from the police? Shooting an unarmed person in the back isn't justified. That simply begs to have corruption run wild. "But he ran!"

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692349)

You don't think that's ripe for abuse? What happened to proportional force? A car is a deadly weapon if you run--a bicycle is not. I hope you rot in hell, you fascist pig.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 months ago | (#45692889)

The problem is that the hell our fascist friend is creating is right here on earth.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692475)

Guilty until proven innocent!

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (0)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#45693347)

So if a cop shows up at the scene of a shooting and is shot by the "alleged suspect", they should die rather than return fire, in case the person shooting at them is innocent?

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45698795)

Who the hell suggested that? You suggested the use of deadly force out of proportion.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#45700107)

The implication was that the cop should presume innocence, even if witnessing a crime in progress. I just extended that stupid idea a little.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 7 months ago | (#45699045)

Yes, definitely. Because that is the logical conclusion of not executing suspects on sight. Brilliant work, you deserve a prize.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#45700099)

Nobody ever suggested shooting suspects on sight. Perhaps the reason you don't get it is because you knee jerks before you finish reading. Read slower and try again. If fleeing were a felony(and it is in some places) and police are authorized to use deadly force to stop a felony in progress (in some places they are), then a cop can use deadly force. Deadly force doesn't always mean shooting. Ramming a car is deadly force as well, and before even the relatively "safe" PIT maneuver is used, a clear danger is usually documented. The places with liberal deadly force rules often had the cases where a suspect fled and ended up killing someone, but the police couldn't have stopped the future crimes from the criminal without using escalated/deadly force.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 7 months ago | (#45701311)

Might it be possible to construct a scenario where cops are authorized to use deadly force to stop an active killer while not having a policy of shooting bike thieves in the back? I know that that doesn't lend itself very well to black and white thinking, but... think it over.

If fleeing were a felony(and it is in some places)

Lots of things are felonies. Not paying my taxes is a felony. But I don't think it would be justified if I got shot while not paying them.

stopped the future crimes

Laugh Out Loud. I don't think any future crimes that a bike thief can be assumed to commit in the future if not stopped by all means necessary are worth killing him over.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#45701337)

Not paying my taxes is a felony.

False. Since you can't get simple things like that right, how can we believe anything else you say?

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (2)

donaldm (919619) | about 7 months ago | (#45692839)

It should be a felony to run from the police, and police should be able to stop a felony in progress with deadly force. Then it'd be much easier to stop you on a bicycle.

In Australia if you run from the cops you stand a very good chance of going to jail under the following legislation [criminallaw.com.au] , unless you have a very good defense lawyer and even then you are not going to get out of it cheaply. I would assume that many other countries have some sort of legislation like this in place. Of course the method of perusing and capturing a freeing person varies country to country and the police.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692859)

Capturing a freeing person? Is that like recapturing slaves?

perusing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45698709)

Or pursuing?

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (5, Interesting)

Phyrexia (55710) | about 7 months ago | (#45691467)

From TFA:

One Harley Davidson motorcycle that had been reported stolen passed license plate scanners a total of 59 times between Oct. 19, 2012, and March 13, 2013. It was often recorded on sequential days or multiple times in a single day, all by the same scanner and almost always within the same half-hour span in the early evening.

The issue here is not cyclists driving like assholes.

Re:The police have no ability to control motorcycl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691487)

No, it's cyclists getting their bikes stolen like assholes!

The issue here... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692121)

...is money. People, including the police, do what they are incited to do.

The police have very little incentive to go out of their way to recover a stolen bike. They get paid regardless. They DO have some incentive to ensure the safety of large businesses in their area, as a lot of their money depends on the economic conditions created by said businesses. Also, they have some incentive to enforce laws which ensure the continued wealth of already-wealthy people, largely under the same principle but also because such people tend to have a lot of political power and hence influence over the salaries and appointments of the upper echelons of the police force.

  Stuff like this is only "embarrassing" because it has the effect of uniting enough not-so-rich people against the current establishment that replacements can actually be made.

These facts are reinforced by the response. Rather than fix the problem by ensuring that the officers do their jobs, they make the evidence go away. Such actions make it crystal-clear who the police serve.

Re: The issue here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692287)

Umm. That was one of the selling points to the public. What it may have actually been was a nice data dump for government agencies.

You clearly know nothing about bikes (2)

langelgjm (860756) | about 7 months ago | (#45693431)

If you think a Harley (from TFA) can sustain 100 MPH.

They Did Not Say They Would Stop (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691469)

The title of the ARS blog article does not say they will stop scanning plates. It says: Boston Police indefinitely suspends license plate reader program.

Suspending the LPR program doesn't mean all that much. Which program exactly? Are there any other programs that use LPR data? Will the cameras be turned off? Will the cameras be removed? Or, will the stolen vehicle reports be discontinued while the tracking database continues to be silently populated/

After all, the Boston Marathon bombing was only like yesterday. The citizenry of Boston must be protected. There still lots of use in that old saw to justify the "need" for LPR everywhere. After all, if you've done nothing wrong, why would this bother you?

Re:They Did Not Say They Would Stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691527)

After all, if you've done nothing wrong, why would this bother you?

Rights aside (although Boston of all places should be better than that), it's a waste of taxpayers' money.

Re:They Did Not Say They Would Stop (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 7 months ago | (#45691865)

If they use the scanners correctly they are actually a fantastic tool for police. allows them to actually target stolen cars, unregistered drivers, suspended drivers etc far better at a far lower cost to the tax payer than pulling over every car. They use them here in Australia very effectively.

Re:They Did Not Say They Would Stop (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 months ago | (#45693117)

No it is a useless tool, since they will never have a squad car in a convenient position to do anything about anything. A far better system is having scanners in every squad car. That way an officer gets a flag the moment there is a suspect car directly in front of him and then he can immediately do something about it. That also avoids having the movent of every citizen monitored illegally without warrants all the time.

Re:They Did Not Say They Would Stop (1)

batkiwi (137781) | about 7 months ago | (#45693671)

So these weren't in the cars? That's fucking pointless then, agreed.

In Australia they're in the patrol cars.

Re:They Did Not Say They Would Stop (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 7 months ago | (#45693863)

So are you saying the article is WRONG and they aren't mounted on the vehicles? or did you just not read the article?

Re:They Did Not Say They Would Stop (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692071)

Are there any other programs that use LPR data?

CUPS?

Thank you! I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

The machine seems to be working ok. (5, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 months ago | (#45691629)

The problem is not the scanners are producing wrong reports or misreading the plates. Looks like no one is bothering to follow up on the alerts triggered by these scanners. Apparently the police were more interested in trying to detect movement of people, though the systems was allegedly installed to report stolen vehicles. Even the ars technica report is more than a year old. May be the police are just slow, to react to anything, from the scanner report to ars technica.

Anyway the license plate scanners are not going to work. There was this news report about some precocious teens, taking a picture of the license plate of a teacher they did not like, printing it, pasting it over their own number plates and went through several red-light cameras and triggered a number of tickets for that poor teacher. So it ain't gonna work. Criminals are two steps ahead of the cops, they will easy mark some sap and pass the blame on them, use these cameras to create iron-clad alibi etc. Glad it is gone.

Re:The machine seems to be working ok. (4, Insightful)

mariox19 (632969) | about 7 months ago | (#45691945)

Apparently the police were more interested in trying to detect movement of people []

That would be my concern too, but for the fact that I suspect something else entirely.

I'm going to guess that someone in industry, eager to sell a product, got together with someone at the police department, eager to carve out a brand new, bureaucratic niche for himself; and putting these two together is why the scanners got bought—not for any legitimate police work. The cops in their cars don't really care about the scanners, and neither do their superiors; because catching stolen cars doesn't do as much for revenue generation as does writing tickets for expired registrations, pulling over drunk drivers, or setting up good old-fashioned speed traps.

Re:The machine seems to be working ok. (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | about 7 months ago | (#45692163)

Catching stolen cars is likely a revenue loss for the police department (because it will mean they need to spend time putting together a case for prosecution), and occasionally dangerous for the arresting officer. It doesn't make any sense for them to do their job.

Re:The machine seems to be working ok. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45694545)

Catching stolen cars is likely a revenue loss for the police department

Easily fixed - a small bonus to the cop making the arrest - and more funding for a PD that solves a higher percentage of cases.

Re:The machine seems to be working ok. (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 7 months ago | (#45691957)

Anyway the license plate scanners are not going to work. There was this news report about some precocious teens, taking a picture of the license plate of a teacher they did not like, printing it, pasting it over their own number plates and went through several red-light cameras and triggered a number of tickets for that poor teacher. So it ain't gonna work. Criminals are two steps ahead of the cops, they will easy mark some sap and pass the blame on them, use these cameras to create iron-clad alibi etc.

So apparantly it _didn't_ work, right? If there is a report about it in the papers?

Consider this: Going through a red light is an offense. Framing another person for something like that is a _very serious_ offense. To see how serious: A British Cabinet minister (Chris Huhne) first had to resign, then was convicted for "perverting the course of justice" because he convinced his wife for taking responsibility for a speeding ticket when he was caught driving too fast. That's with a person willingly taking the blame for a traffic offense. This one is about framing an innocent person of several traffic offences, something a lot more serious.

Traffic camera prone to spoofing and abuse (3, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 months ago | (#45692037)

Re:Traffic camera prone to spoofing and abuse (1)

fatphil (181876) | about 7 months ago | (#45692853)

The most worrying phrase in that write-up is this one:
"using license-plate-like fonts downloaded off the web"

I can hear rusty cogs grinding away...

Re:Traffic camera prone to spoofing and abuse (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 7 months ago | (#45694059)

So I guess buying a used Crown Victoria, and cloning unmarked law enforcement license plates on it was a good idea, eh? :)

Re:Traffic camera prone to spoofing and abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45694237)

Teachers? What a lost opportunity. Should be the police and politicians who thought firing off a traffic citation based on such flimsy and easily-spoofed evidence was a good idea.

Re:The machine seems to be working ok. (1)

Smauler (915644) | about 7 months ago | (#45692827)

Consider this: Going through a red light is an offense. Framing another person for something like that is a _very serious_ offense. To see how serious: A British Cabinet minister (Chris Huhne) first had to resign, then was convicted for "perverting the course of justice" because he convinced his wife for taking responsibility for a speeding ticket when he was caught driving too fast. That's with a person willingly taking the blame for a traffic offense. This one is about framing an innocent person of several traffic offences, something a lot more serious.

Criminals will not frame another person for an offence. They will get a white van, change the one relevant digit (they are sequentially issued in batches in the UK) on the registration, and now have a van which has a numberplate of someone else's identical van. If they actually get caught with the wrong numberplate, they can easily claim accidental error, because accidental error does occur.

Good luck convicting someone who says they made a mistake with their numberplate for perverting the course of justice. Chris Huhn (and his wife) were convicted because she vindictively admitted it when they divorced to damage his reputation... she didn't count on her conviction, too.

Re:The machine seems to be working ok. (1)

mdielmann (514750) | about 7 months ago | (#45692995)

May be the police are just slow, to react to anything, from the scanner report to ars technica.

Ah yes, slow to react is just what I'm looking for in an emergency response organization.

Re:The machine seems to be working ok. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45694501)

Anyway the license plate scanners are not going to work. There was this news report about some precocious teens, taking a picture of the license plate of a teacher they did not like,

Which is why a "scanner report" is not evidence. The thing has to store the photo, not merely the number. OCR can be wrong, and it can be fooled by a fake plate. But provide the high-res photo, and we can check if the plate is fake or if it is on the correct type of car. Maybe even see who is driving.

I'm not shocked (3)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 7 months ago | (#45691643)

If the records were publicly available, people would see that the majority of stolen items/vehicles are not found unless they are in a vehicle stopped for a traffic violation or an actual stolen vehicle has been stopped. Last year there was a group of people that was stealing stuff out of peoples cards in a near by neighborhood. They pilfered stuff from cars for a month until they got pulled over because their inspection sticker expired. Successful criminals keep their cars clean, insured, up to date, and drive slow.

Re:I'm not shocked (3, Informative)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 7 months ago | (#45691935)

Except when it comes to the details of the motorcycle case in particular, it's baffling that it wasn't recovered. It passed by the same camera something like 40 times, on sequential days, in the same half hour period. Shit, you can just station a cop there and let them write speeding tickets for 2-3 days, and they'd be bound to run into it.

Re:I'm not shocked (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 7 months ago | (#45692373)

Between the hours of what and what? I mean come on man. Discounts at Dunkin donuts have time limits!

Re:I'm not shocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692403)

And unless the thing physically ran into the cop it wouldn't get stopped either.

Re:I'm not shocked (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 7 months ago | (#45692481)

They know what it looks like. The know what the number plate is. They know where is will be.

Why do you think they couldn't pull it over?

Re:I'm not shocked (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 7 months ago | (#45692345)

That's how State Trooper Charles J. Hanger caught the worst domestic terrorist in US history. Cruisin' down I-35 with no plates.

Dumb. But not dumb enough to blow himself up instead of 168 citizens.

Why not just use it for for specific targets (1)

bhlowe (1803290) | about 7 months ago | (#45691655)

Why release any data not associated with a wanted vehicle? On the other hand, it seems like it could do a great job finding wanted vehicles... Stolen cars, Amber Alerts, bail jumpers, and wanted felons.. Only when you use it for misdemeanor offenses does it seem to suggest a civil liberties problem. (Say you get pulled over.. turns out your tags was incorrectly reported stolen.. the issue is cleared up and your tags are cleared from the watch list.. probable cause and no real harm done... ) A little law and order targeting felons is something most people can support.

Re:Why not just use it for for specific targets (4, Interesting)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 7 months ago | (#45691685)

Re:Why not just use it for for specific targets (1)

mariox19 (632969) | about 7 months ago | (#45691969)

Something like this needs to be seen and understood by the populace at large. But, you know what? A lot people would look at this and think, "Oh, good! I hate drunk drivers!"

Read The Source, Not The Blog (3, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 months ago | (#45691669)

Re:Read The Source, Not The Blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691901)

and from the Boston Globe article, real reason for scanning suspension:

Some of the most frequent hits in the database were scanned in Boston police’s own employee parking lots.

Captain Picard - Sexy in Chair (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691741)

same dept not tracked by gps? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45691927)

I seem to remember something about this same department rejecting GPS tracking for officers. Maybe they realized the system was watching them too.

why stoping (1)

Nsr Bek (3463729) | about 7 months ago | (#45692289)

what the problem with police ?

Pretty obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45692383)

They don't actually care about wanting to stop crime. They want to know where everybody is, comes from and went and whom they go to, so that anytime someone annoys them in some way, they have all the material they need to threaten them, "wouldn't want anyone to know" or "anything to happen to..." style, or destroy any credibility of someone testifying against them.

Save for the occasional lone beat-cop who's probably never going to make it past sergeant as a result of actually believing in 'to serve and protect' [and I have met many like this], most of the force is interested in keeping people paying tickets for small infractions and too afraid to act against the abuses dealt to them.

Knowing that a stolen car is driving right there twice a day is of no use to them at all. Knowing which motel a candidate likes to take his little boys to, that gives a bit of leverage.

Re:Pretty obvious (3, Interesting)

Smauler (915644) | about 7 months ago | (#45692907)

I don't believe, in the UK that the police are that corrupt, and I'm more cynical than most with regards to the UK police. What I _do_ believe is that with the laws that are on the books today, most people can be guilty of a crime, and police _do_ selectively arrest. Part of the problem is that police assume that they are deserved of "respect" above and beyond that of normal citizens... you see this all the time on police shows, telling them to fuck off gets you arrested. Telling normal people to fuck off gets you ignored mostly, or hit sometimes. You don't get arrested.

It's a consistent theme with police following programmes - you show us respect, or you get arrested. Fuck that shit.

Re:Pretty obvious (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 7 months ago | (#45694423)

Judging from cop shows (an iffy source at best) I'd say the UK police are pretty good at interacting with the public. They are polite and don't seem to demand respect, though they do expect courtesy. If you give them any lip they'll lay into you a little harder (verbally), and they'll threaten arrest only when you become really abusive. Watch a Dutch cop show sometime, for a laugh. Now there are cops who don't expect respect; our cops are trained to "de-escalate" at all cost. Some kid drives through a couple of red lights at twice the speed limit, and runs his mouth when stopped by the cops, going on and on while they do exactly nothing. In this situation it may even have been the right choice, though it does shine some light on the question of why our cops get no respect whatsoever.

I was involved in a minor prang some years ago, and called in the cops because the other party was verbally abusive and threatening violence (not uncommon: these people learn from early on that a big mouth will get you anything). The cops show up and the guy starts laying into them... no reaction from the cops. Only when at some point I had enough and told the big guy "fuck you", did the cops turn to me and said "now, now, sir, none of that". Because I was de-de-escalating the situation, see?

This happens all the time here. Some kids attack two passengers at a tram stop, cops show up, kids remain abusive, and the passengers are the ones asked to jog on. To "keep the peace". Arresting the youngsters would only aggravate them further.

Personally I think cops do need to be firm at times. The problem is that when they get told that, they'll religiously apply it and do you for the smallest crosswise remark.

Re:Pretty obvious (1)

itsdapead (734413) | about 7 months ago | (#45694139)

Knowing that a stolen car is driving right there twice a day is of no use to them at all.

Actually, knowing that the stolen motorbike has driven past a particular camera 60 times in the last 6 months probably isn't that much help unless you have the manpower to stake out that camera site or do a house-to-house search in the area. TFA is pretty vague on whether the camera is on a busy street, or exactly how predictable those drive-bys really were.

Before reaching for conspiracy theories I'd consider the strong possibilities that these systems are the result of police chiefs and other politicians buying into high tech snake oil products in the belief that they are a miracle substitute for expensive and properly trained boots on the street. All such a system will do is deluge over-worked officers with alert emails - and they're probably under strict instructions to prioritise the cases that lead to recovery of unpaid fines rather than expensive criminal prosecutions. To re-phrase Hanlon's Razor - never attribute to grand corruption that which may be adequately explained by petty corruption.

If the powers that be wanted a database of everything there are plenty of large IT corporations they could buy it from.

Ah Boston (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about 7 months ago | (#45692575)

Ah Boston PD, you show yet again how absolutely crazy you are. The saddest thing of all, suspect that lack of action in regards to stolen vehicles & and the insanely high (99.99%) false positive rate are not the reasons for their "suspending" of the program. All of those hits in the police employee parking lot that they'd rather not address is probably by the far the largest driving factor.

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