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Ripon adding license plate readers at 19 street locations
License Plate Reader cameras.jpg
This is an example of a fixed mount license plate reader.

Ripon is moving forward with fixed license plate recognition (LPR) cameras at 19 locations to monitor various entry points to the city.

It’s part of the city’s ongoing effort to provide its police with tools that make officers more effective at reducing crime and catching perpetrators.  It includes 76 of the latest-in-technology cameras will replace the old video surveillance system, which, according to Police Chief Ed Ormonde, had become outdated and difficult for staff to keep online.

The LPR cameras are particularly effective as they rapidly scan license plates and will “hit” on those that have been entered into a statewide data base as being stolen. Crime data shows that a high percentage of property crime from shoplifting to vehicle and residential burglaries to armed robberies are conducted by individuals either using stolen vehicles or stolen license plates.

The system alerts police who then can respond and pull over the vehicle in question as they have probable cause. It is a “pre-crime” prevention as stolen cars or vehicles with stolen plates are used in crime. The fact either came into the possession of the drivers of such vehicles is a crime therefore providing probable cause, the legal justification to arrest a criminal suspect, and essentially prevent them from committing a crime in Ripon.

Technology advances have brought such LPR cameras down in price to between $500 and $2,000 apiece depending on the camera quality.

Motorola 13 years ago worked with Ripon as a demonstration project to install a MESH wireless communication network consisting of radio nodes to install cameras at various street locations in Ripon as well as in key places such as the  interior of banks.

Ripon has successfully arrested at least two bank robbery suspects within minutes of the crime being committed. Bank personnel activate the camera. Images immediately are flashed to the dispatch center that then monitors street cameras. In both cases law enforcement was able to keep visual track of suspects from inside the bank to going to a getaway vehicle and then traveling down Ripon streets. One suspect was caught before he got to Highway 99 and the other was nabbed after a short chase to Salida.

 The new cameras will have better night time capabilities. 

Upgrades to the camera system infrastructure will include the communication radios, the installation of hardware boxes, and any other related equipment.

“Quotes for tower antenna upgrades to assist with the cameras will be in soon,” Ormonde said at the Aug. 14 council meeting.

Once finalized, he added that everything should be up and running in six to eight weeks.

Police will be moving from the Mesh Network to a wireless provider while keeping the system operating.

The department is waiting for a quote for the License Plate Readers or LPR.

“Once that quote is finalized, there is a 45 day turnaround for installation,” said Ormonde.

The city-wide Mesh camera system was first implemented in 2005.

Not too long ago, Council approved an upgrade of the camera system to go along with expanding the current LPR program.

According to police, the Master Plan calls for an eventual build out of 19 fixed LPR cameras — designed to capture motor vehicles driven through town from various entry points — throughout Ripon.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail