An SDPD van nabbed a silver Mercedes on May 13 at the corner of Kline and Eads streets in La Jolla. My request for information resulted in one of the parking enforcement officers walking proudly toward a white SDPD minivan.
“Did you see our van?” he said, pointing to the dual infrared cameras mounted on its roof. “The cameras are connected with a database. We can determine those with outstanding parking citations. It uses character-recognition software…it reads license plates. If there are five or more citations, with the last one being unpaid for 30 or more days, the vehicle gets towed,” he said as we all watched the vehicle being hooked up to a Star Towing truck.
The initial pilot program utilizing this technology (called “Auto Vu”) began in August 2008 and continued through the end of October 2008. The program was initially used in high-car-volume areas, such as parking lots and along city streets. Its original intent was to hunt down stolen vehicles. Today, in addition to determining whether or not a car is stolen and the number of outstanding parking citations, the technology allows parking-enforcement officers to determine whether or not cars have exceeded their one- or two-hour time limit, rendering tire-chalking obsolete.
When asked to provide some interesting statistics about the success of this technology, a representative of the SDPD Media Relations department said, “I thought they were using the van to run plates for stolen vehicles. The van isn’t used for parking enforcement.” Upon learning of the La Jolla towing due to parking citations, the representative added, “I’m not trying to be evasive here…I’m sure it’s a multi-task vehicle.”
To see the van and photos of the towing click here.