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Saturday, April 04, 2009

New Haven Employs New Road Technology to Catch Scofflaws

Mobile Plate Hunter Recoups $2.6 Million in Unpaid Taxes

C.J. Cuticello installed the Mobile Plate Hunter-900 license plate recognition system by ELSAG North America one year ago. Since then, the New Haven, CT tax collector claims to have pulled in $2.6 million in revenue owed to the municipality.

Usually mounted to a law enforcement vehicle, the MPH-900 is a camera system that captures images of license plates and cross-references them with a database for sought-after vehicles. It is predominantly used to recover stolen vehicles.

Today’s economy is forcing communities and law enforcement agencies to tighten their belts across the board. The MPH-900 is a tool that not only enhances the capability of officers on the road, but also is able to actually create untapped revenue for their communities. It has many applications beyond just recovering stolen vehicles.

Cuticello was one of the first tax collectors to realize the potential of the MPH-900. In 2004, he first began exploring the idea and implementation of license plate recognition technology. As he learned more about the technology, he realized that the MPH-900 was the best in the business. By using the MPH-900, his office has collected $2.6 million in back taxes, tickets and penalties in 2008.

“As a tax collector and somebody who is really enthusiastic about technological advancements, I am thrilled with ELSAG North America’s MPH-900,” said Cuticello. “It has made my job much more efficient and even more exciting.”

The New Haven Tax Collector’s office inputs the license plate numbers of offenders who owe the city tax money into a database that is cross-referenced by the MPH-900 system in use on the road. At the moment, they employ four cars with this camera system that simultaneously read all license plates the four vehicles come across in a 360-degree radius. When it identifies a license plate that is in the database, the system alerts the driver, who then phones in the vehicle’s whereabouts and verifies that it is in fact a tax evader. Next, the office arranges to have the vehicle towed, and alerts the local police of their actions. When the scofflaw notifies the police that their car is missing, he or she is told why the vehicle has been apprehended and its whereabouts. The police then direct the person to Cuticello’s office, where they must pay all of their fines at once, in cash, before being allowed to reacquire their vehicle.

The New Haven team also alerts police if they detect an Amber Alert plate or a serious offender outside the realm of tax evasion.

Mark Windover, president and CEO of ELSAG North America, said, “We love to see our clients pleased with the MPH-900, especially when they get creative with its applications. Our job is to make our clients more successful at their job catching the bad guys on the street, and it is very rewarding."

Other cities besides New Haven is using the MPH-900 to this end; however, it is one of the first and most exciting as they immediately recuperated the cost of the MPH-900 and have collected millions of dollars for their city.

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