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Police to Get License Plate Camera

High-tech device will keep an eye out for wrong-doers' vehicles

Strongsville police will have another way to identify fugitives and stolen cars soon -- with an Automatic License Plate Reader.

The high-tech camera is designed to snap pictures of license plates as vehicles go by and check them against a criminal database.

If there's a match, the system alerts police.

"It will allow us to work smarter, not harder," Police Chief Charles Goss said.

The device can be mounted on a stationary object, like on a utility pole or under a bridge, or can be carried in a police vehicle.

Strongsville will get the $16,300 system free. Cuyahoga County recently was awarded a grant to buy a number of the readers, and Strongsville will be among the cities receiving one.

The readers are typically used to find people who have outstanding warrants or are driving without a license, to spot stolen cars and to identify vehicles being sought during Amber Alerts.

Goss said police will be able to enter specific information into the system to track down people the department is seeking.

The camera can capture thousands of license plates per minute.

Councilman at large Joe DeMio said the reader will give police a big assist in keeping track of wrong-doers who drive through Strongsville.

"The volume of people who visit this community is enormous," DeMio said.

The readers have come under fire from the American Civil Liberties Union, which worries that the devices will jeopardize Americans' privacy.

According to the ACLU's website, law enforcement agencies can create databases that track and store the location of every motorist who encounters the system, not just those suspected of criminal activity.

It then "becomes a warrantless tracking tool, enabling retroactive surveillance of millions of people," the website says.

And that can reveal "deeply sensitive and intimate details of our lives," it says, keeping tabs on things like motorists' visits to churches, doctors' offices and addiction counseling sessions.

The ALPRs have been used by law enforcement agencies in northeast Ohio for at least two years.

Winston Smith September 07, 2012 at 01:06 PM
I agree with the ACLU on this one. I think this is an invasion of citizens privacy. On the plus side, it is likely a cost savings. Maybe we can lay-off 2 Strongsville Cops? Maybe it will actually save money if we can automate some police duties...
Ken McEntee September 07, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Welcome to the United Police State of America. I feel so safe now that cameras are watching everybody at every moment. The more the better. Maybe next year the city can get a really big "free" grant from the federal government so cameras can be installed inside all of our homes. It would be a wonderful new tool for law enforcement. After all, when it comes to safety, you can never be too cautious. By the way, the "free" grant money that made these cameras possible is part of a $1.1 BILLION per year program administered through the U.S. Justice Department. You should be tickled to know that a portion of the federal taxes being withheld from your paycheck are now being wisely spent on snapping photos of your license plate as you drive home from work. Winston: Say "hi" to O'Brien and Julie for me. I hope the telescreens there at Victory Mansions are in good working order.
ss September 07, 2012 at 06:29 PM
For everyone who is freaking out about invasion of privacy...A license plate on a car driving down a public street is not exactly private. No one is tracking where you are going. if you drive by the camera and have done nothing wrong, no one is going to take the time to look for you - you are not as interesting as you think you are (myself included).
Richard September 07, 2012 at 07:03 PM
This is no different than a policeman sitting in a parking lot or along the street somewhere 'running plates'. Many have been pulled over for expired plates just because they drove by a cop DOING HIS JOB. Personally, I have no problem with it. As ss says, I'm not very interesting, and I'm not a criminal. So snap away!
AJK September 07, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Lets not forget that being able to drive a car in the state of ohio is a privilege and not a right. As far as your license plates they are state issued. So those of you who think your rights are violated need to know the law before posting your comments.
Carrie Powell September 09, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I commented previously and will say it again....if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to hide....AJK said it well....it's a PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT. Personally, I feel better knowing YOU as well as I, are being watched. Next time you get your hairs all up on end for the traffic cameras, think of the Michigan police officer that lost a leg and will possibly lose his life from the hit and run on I71 on Thursday. Traffic cameras...AMEN. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.
Sam Kandrin September 11, 2012 at 08:11 PM
The Stronsville police have been using the hood mounted cameras on an unmarked police car that routinely goes down the aisles of Strongsville business scaning the license plates. This issue is not new. If it helps get the bad guys off the road or helps with recovering stolen vehicles, I'm all for it. It is a fact that BIG BROTHER is here for better or worse.

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