Police in South Florida are using license plate scanners to look for stolen vehicles and criminals. The multi-camera and scanner system is mounted on the hood, trunk, or roof of a cruiser and can scan as many as 10,000 license plates a shift.
In Palm Beach County, the Sheriff’s Office has been using a scanning system to track sex offenders and gang members since 2007. The Broward Sheriff’s Office has 35 license plate recognition systems mounted on police cars and stationed at locations throughout the area. Their system has been in place for about a year and scans 300,000 license plates per month on average.
Police say the system is an effective way for law enforcement officials to multi-tack and track criminal activity, but some privacy-rights groups worry that the information could be misused. Every license plate is stored in a police database and the hope is that the information could be shared between all agencies in the future. A representation of the ACLU’s Broward chapter expressed concern about officers tracking a girlfriend or snooping on people who haven’t committed a crime.
According to a spokesman for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, “it’s a crime-fighting tool used to find violent offenders or violent criminals. This is not Big Brother watching.”
New cameras in police cruisers can analyze thousands of license tags a day, The Sun Sentinel, March 26, 2009
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