Crime Analysis and LPR

Crime analysis is required in order to implement almost any evidence-based policing strategy. Drawing on ideas of problem-oriented policing and prediction, crime analysis can use data to better direct patrol and investigations and increase the effectiveness of crime prevention efforts. Indeed, the term “proactive” policing implies the use of data and analysis to identify crime-generating places, people, and situations.

Thus, crime analysis is at the core of effective LPR patrol deployment. For example, if LPR is being used to detect autotheft, stolen tags, or motor verhicle violations, analysts can develop accurate maps using geographic information systems technology to direct officers to specific places to patrol to maximize their deterrent and preventative effect. Analysts might also support investigative units by using database analytic technologies to quickly sort through LPR data to assist with locating suspect of interest.

Crime analysis is also important to LPR deployment because successful problem solving depends on regular assessment and refinement of the deployment strategies. Analysts can play a key role in evaluating whether or not LPR use by an agency has yielded measurable effects on crime reduction (not just increasing crime detection). These regular assessments are useful in changing LPR deployment, if necessary, to improve its effectiveness. A detailed description of how we conducted one type of LPR hot spots evaluation can be found in Chapter 3 of our 2010 Report. More information on the current evaluations being conducted by the LPR research team is located here.

Finally, analysts often are the link between operational units and research evidence. Analysts can serve as an information source for supervisors and commanders about effective uses for and ideas about deployment of LPR according to findings of data and analysis. See our deployment portal for more information.

Crime Analysis and LPR

  • Koper, C.S., & Lum, C. (2018). Effectiveness of License Plate Readers for Patrol and Investigations. The Police Chief, September 2018, 14-15.
  • Koper, C.S., & Lum, C. (2019). The impacts of large-scale license plate reader deployment on criminal investigations. Police Quarterly, 22(3), 305-329.
  • Koper, C.S., Lum, C., Willis, J.J., Happeny, S., Johnson, W.D., Nichols, J., Stoltz, M., Vovak, H., Wu, X., & Nagin, D.S. (2018). Evaluating the Crime Control and Cost-Benefit Effectiveness of License Plate Recognition (LPR) Technology. Final Report to the National Institute of Justice. Fairfax, VA: Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University.
  • Koper, C.S., Lum, C., Wu, X., Johnson, W., & Stoltz, M. (2022). Do license plate readers enhance the initial and residual deterrent effects of police patrol? A quasi-randomized test. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 18, 725-746.
  • Lum, C., Hibdon, J., Cave, B., Koper, C.S., & Merola, L. (2011). License plate reader (LPR) police patrols in crime hot spots: An experimental evaluation in two adjacent jurisdictions. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 7(4), 321-345.
  • Lum, C., Koper, C.S., Willis, J.J., Happeny, S., Vovak, H., & Nichols, J. (2019). The rapid diffusion of license plate readers in US law enforcement agencies. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 42(3), 376-393.
  • Lum, C., Merola, L., Willis (Hibdon), J., & Cave, B. (2010). License Plate Recognition Technologies for Law Enforcement: Impact Evaluation and Community Assessment. Fairfax, VA: Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University.
  • Merola, L., & Lum, C. (2012). Privacy and the impact of emerging surveillance technologies: The case of license plate recognition technology. Judicature, 96(3), 119-126.
  • Merola, L., & Lum, C. (2014). Predicting public support for the use of license plate recognition technology by police. Police Practice and Research, 15(5): 373-388.
  • Merola, L., & Lum, C. (2015). Understanding Citizen Support for License Plate Readers. Translational Criminology, 8 (Spring 2015), 23-25.
  • Merola, L., Lum, C., Cave, B., & Hibdon, J. (2014). Community support for license plate recognition. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 37(1), 30-51.
  • Merola, L., Lum, C., & Murphy, R. (2018). The impact of license plate recognition technology (LPR) on trust in law enforcement: A survey-experiment. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 15(1), 55-66.
  • Willis, J.J., Koper, C.S., & Lum, C. (2018). The adaptation of license-plate readers for investigative purposes: Police technology and innovation re-invention. Justice Quarterly, 35(4), 614-638.