Rural crime team gets $4.9M budget boost, automated licence plate readers

Saskatchewan’s newly created Protection and Response Team is getting a $4.9 million boost from the recent budget, plus a promise of more automatic licence plate recognition devices from SGI.

Protection and Response Team to create 30 new positions and install more ALPRs

There are currently 59 SGI-funded automated licence plate scanners in Saskatchewan, and SGI says they will be funding more. (SGI)

Saskatchewan's newly created Protection and Response Team (PRT) is getting a boost from the recent budget.

The 2018-19 budget provides $4.9 million from SGI for the Rural Crime Strategy. The funding includes an additional 30 police positions for the PRT, a rural crime team created as part of an effort to improve police response times to emergency calls for service and police visibility in rural areas.

The PRT is a force of 258 armed officers with arrest and detention powers and includes municipal police, RCMP, Ministry of Highways vehicle enforcement officers and Ministry of Environment conservation officers.

'Significant' investment in scanners

Since the PRT was announced in August 2017, they've purchased automatic licence plate recognition (ALPR) devices. Tyler McMurchy with SGI said more of those devices are coming down the line for the PRT.

SGI has funded 59 scanners across the province to date, though police departments have also invested in some on their own.

Driving an unregistered vehicle can result in a $580 fine and one demerit point in the Driver Improvement Program. Repeat offences result in a seven-day vehicle seizure. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

The devices use infrared technology to scan licence plates automatically on the road. If the plate raises any red flags, an alert sounds.

Police are alerted if the licence is linked to a stolen or unregistered vehicle, a suspended driver, a reported impaired driver, or a person wanted by police.

In 2016, there were more than 1,800 convictions for driving while disqualified, according to SGI. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

The scanners cost $20,000 to $25,000 per vehicle to purchase and install. SGI has spent $1.5 million on the technology so far, and McMurchy said SGI is going to make a "significant" investment into more ALPR tech in the near future.

"Police have told us that they have gone from manually checking 10 plates every 15 minutes to checking 10 plates in 10 seconds with ALPR. To me that just makes sense that you'd want more of these devices on the road."


Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan.