ACLU: License Plate Readers Could Invade Privacy | News
BUFFALO, N.Y.- Automatic license plate readers are quickly becoming a popular tool among many law enforcement agencies.
A few weeks ago, they started making headlines when the American Civil Liberties Union put out a request asking for the information they collect; that request went out in 38 states, including New York.
A press release from the ACLU quotes one of its staff attorneys, Catherine Crump: "Automatic license plate readers make it possible for the police to track our location whenever we drive our cars and to store that information forever."
In Western New York, you might see them attached to the back of a patrol car. Many agencies here have them, including Kenmore, Cheektowaga, Buffalo Police and the Erie County Sheriff's Department.
According to an Erie County Sheriff's Deputy who uses the readers, all the information that is collected in the county is stored in a database at Central Police Services. That way, any agency across the county can access it when special alerts go out.
For example, they might use that information when there's an Amber Alert, or a stolen vehicle, or to determine if the car is linked to a suspended license or registration.
Central Police Services Commissioner John Glascott told me last week the system isn't used to track people, but it does help to make hundreds of arrests each year.
They've only been in this area for three to five years.
One big question the ACLU is asking: When is the information that is stored deleted? We asked, and couldn't get a definite answer on that.
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