The University of Iowa Police Department has long been a leader in leveraging technology to maintain campus safety, enhance transparency, and gather evidence critical to solving and preventing crimes on campus as well as locating people who may be in danger.

UIPD uses automated license plate readers (ALPRs) to capture objective evidence without compromising individual privacy. This technology is used to assist police officers in solving crimes after they have occurred, locate stolen vehicles that are sometimes used to commit serious crimes, and locate missing/endangered people.

The department has a clear policy that intends to enhance campus safety while respecting and protecting the privacy of everyone who uses public roadways. These cameras are not used to enforce or monitor traffic offenses.

FAQs: Policies and Use

Seven out of every 10 crimes are committed with a vehicle. License plate numbers give UI Police the objective, actionable leads needed to solve investigations. Using ALPR cameras, detectives can pinpoint the suspect’s last known location which narrows down the search radius.


  • The cameras capture an image of a license plate and vehicle characteristics (body type, make, color).
  • The cameras do not capture driver images (faces, people, gender, race) or traffic offenses (speeding, red light violations, etc.).

  • The use of ALPRs by UI Police will be limited to investigating and preventing crimes on campus and locating missing/endangered people.
  • Access to the system is restricted to authorized users and for law enforcement purposes only. The images are not used for enforcing traffic offenses.
  • The system notifies local law enforcement when a stolen car or a car associated with a known wanted suspect from a state or national crime database passes an ALPR camera. The ALPRs also send alerts if a vehicle associated with a missing person in an AMBER Alert or Silver Alert passes a camera.
  • All alerts are required to be human verified before any law enforcement action. This means UI Police are required to take additional steps to verify information flagged in the system before responding.
  • UIPD policy prohibits the use of this data for immigration enforcement, traffic enforcement, harassment or intimidation, usage based solely on a protected class (i.e. race, sex religion), and personal use.
  • UI Police are not using ALPRs to collect revenue.

  • UIPD's ALPR system has strict measures in place to protect community privacy.
  • Images of license plates and vehicle characteristics are deleted after 30 days for privacy and security purposes.
  • Data associated with an ongoing law enforcement investigation shall be retained with the investigative record according to established university record retention policies.
  • Data is encrypted throughout its entire lifecycle. This means data is secure from when it is on the camera to when it is transferred to the cloud. All data, both images and metadata, is encrypted at rest using AES256 encryption (the level of encryption used by the federal government) with a cloud provider.
  • Data is used for law enforcement purposes only. The data is owned by UIPD and is never sold to third parties.
  • Learn more about how this system protects privacy here.

  • Access to records created and maintained by the ALPR system is restricted to sworn law enforcement officers and their support staff. All employees with access to the system will use a unique login and password to access records.
  • All system access requires the authorized user to enter a valid reason for accessing the data. Every search conducted in the ALPR system requires a specific reason for a traceable audit conducted by law enforcement leadership, constituents, or other governing body. Any possible misuse of the system would result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or possible criminal charges, if applicable.

The UI Police Department has announced its ALPR system and will maintain a web page that outlines data collection and privacy policies.

Success Stories

UI Police leveraging camera technology to strengthen campus safety

Monday, April 3, 2023