May 21, 2012, 4:46 PM — The DEA wants to set up some cameras in Utah that will provide a level of supervision over major highways that outraged most people during a relatively brief test of the system in Massachusetts last year.
The DEA wants to install an Automated License Plate Recognition System (ALPRS) along Interstate 15 in Southwest Utah, which it calls a major drug corridor.
The systems the DEA proposed using in meetings with Utah legislators and law enforcement are designed to scan the license plate of every passing car, use OCR to identify the characters and links ot state driver databases to identify the owner.
The goal is to keep track of frequent travelers along the highway between on perch in Beaver County, along Utah's Western border, and another in Washington County, in the state's far southwestern corner.
One would read southbound plates; the other would read northbound plates, according to the DEA, capturing the license-plate number, GPS coordinates and direction of travel.
If it recognized a plate other police agencies asked about, or put an alert on, the ALPRS system could text or email an alert right away.
The data would be cross-referenced with address data, police records, warrant information and other available data. Police with access to any of the collected by the ALPRS would have access to all the associated identifying data as well.
"I can assure you there is no private information stored in association with these plates," according to Gary Newcomb, a supervisory IT specialist from the DEA, who testified before the Utah legislature to fill them in on the proposal.
"I can have a deputy sit out there [on I-15] all day long and write down license plates and we still have to follow the exact same procedure" for investigating suspects, according to Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel.
Utah Dept. of Transportation