Constitutional Law

Kansas City Police Say 7M License Plate Shots Showing Date, Time and Location Are a Public Record

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In the wake of an American Civil Liberties Union campaign launched this week to determine how much information from automatic vehicle license plate readers is being stored by law enforcement agencies nationally and how the database is being used, police statistics are starting to hit the headlines.

In Kansas City, police have stored about 7 million plate numbers over the past two years. The records show the date, time and the vehicle’s exact location when the plate snapshot was taken, reports the Kansas City Star.

Police say the records have helped solve burglary and shoplifting cases. They also say the information in the database could be obtained through a public records request, for which an unspecified fee would be charged.

In Delaware, a similar database compiled over the past several years is being used to locate stolen cars and drivers wanted for crimes, traffic violations and outstanding parking tickets, reports the News Journal.

Sgt. Paul Shavack of the state police says license plate information collected by cameras on his department’s vehicles is kept for up to five years and can be used in investigations both by state police and other law enforcement agencies, with permission.

The city of Wilmington, Del., reportedly keeps a database used to locate parking and red-light ticket scofflaws indefinitely.

Related coverage: “ACLU Asks Law Enforcement Agencies to Explain How Automatic License Plate Reader Data Is Used” “It Isn’t Necessarily Big Brother, But Somebody Is Potentially Watching, Virtually All the Time”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Cameras record license plates in a snap”

WWL-TV: “License plate scanner helps arrest copper thief who stole from churches “

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