Back in November, Anne Linehan linked to a KHOU-11 story about a new $150,000 high-tech truck that’s being used to track down cars with outstanding traffic citations.
Today, KTRK-13 posts a story from Tom Abrahams on the high tech toy:
The city now has a truck that can scan and check up to 800 license plates in an hour, running them against a so-called hot list. That’s a list of vehicles with multiple tickets.
When it finds a match, it immediately notifies the officer driving the unit, who can then place a warning on the vehicle or boot it. That’s speeding up what can be slow and tedious work.
Even though an off-duty HPD officer runs the auto view truck, the city of Houston doesn’t actually own it. It’s owned by the law firm that’s in charge of collecting fines.
“We can look for stolen vehicles and recover those if we find those along the way,” said William E. King with Linebargre, Goggan, Blair, and Sampson. “If there’s an Amber Alert and there’s a license plate associated with it, we can put that into the system and look for that.”
The city likes the results so far, estimating 15 to 20 hits a week during two months of use.
“We’re more efficient in terms of having those outstanding parking citations being paid,” said Liliana Rambo with the city of Houston.
The current rig costs around $150,000, but given that every hit the system makes finds hundreds in fines, it very well could be money well spent. It’s a nightmare for the delinquent, but a dream for taxpayers.
Part of me wants to make fun of the $150,000 traffic citation truck. Part of me wants to do a ride-along with the HPD driver/operator.