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cars with the technology in October 2009, two months later about $5,000 in outstanding parking fines had been collected using the system. Slusarz estimated that the system would continue locating about $2,500 per month in overdue fines -money that will aid local agencies during the tough economy.

Another benefit of the system is that it records the license plate number and GPS coordinates of vehicles it scans, which is especially useful when an officer is responding to a call. Slusarz said officers manually track the license plates of vehicles near a crime scene, but the system completes that task automatically. Officers also use the system to search for a specific plate, like one driven by a burglary suspect, to determine if the car has been in the area before. "It's used as an investigative tool as well, which is very good," he said.

In the future, the police department wants to purchase surveillance-type license plate readers that will attach to telephone poles. Slusarz said there are many vehicle thefts in the spring and summer, and the technology will help to track the vehicles. The patrol car-based system is also used by nearby police departments in Stamford and Norwalk, and the towns are interested in creating a regional fusion center to share information.

"All the cars that are collecting this data will be able to extend the data to this one centralized location," he said. "That way, officers who are doing their investigations and are looking for particular cars and patterns with these cars can log in to the center and be able to see and track patterns."

These new technologies highlight merely a few examples of how technology has changed and evolved to aid law enforcement officers. As for the future, the possibilities seem endless.

Elaine Pittman Elaine Pittman  |  Managing Editor

Managing Editor Elaine Pittman has nearly a decade of experience in writing and editing, having started her career with The Coloradoan daily newspaper in Fort Collins, Colo. Elaine joined Government Technology in 2008 as a copy editor. She can be reached via email and @elainerpittman on Twitter.