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License Plate Readers Coming to Dallas

Photo: ACLU
Photo: ACLU

Back in January, the City Council approved the purchase of 28 license plate readers, designed, in theory, to catch stolen cars and bad guys. There has been some blowback on the practice nationwide — ACLU: “If the government knows WHERE YOU ARE,  the government knows WHO YOU ARE.” — with a few states regulating the practice to the brink of uselessness.

Last month, the Council approved the $604,000 purchase of the readers and the $146,000 service contract, but didn’t really know what they were getting. Today’s Public Safety Committee briefing has some insight:

- 14 readers will be in fixed, targeted locations, while the other 14 are on police vehicles
– The readers will be implemented mostly in the highest crime beats in the city
– Photos of license plates are taken of vehicles on public streets, and will not be used on private property
–  License plate data records are compared to input data of known criminals and matches are sent to officers
– Installation will be completed by the end of the spring
– Data will be retained for 3 months and automatically purged

This last bullet was a major sticking point at the council’s January briefing. Dallas Police Chief David Brown recommended three to six months of retention; City Councilwoman Angela Hunt recommended zero days. Read the whole briefing, which also includes some info on bait cars and additional mounted cameras in high-crime areas, after the jump:

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