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License plate readers up for renewal in Jackson, residents have chance to tell officials if they are worth it

Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 21, 2022

JACKSON, Mich. — Drive through Jackson, and there’s a good chance your license plate is on camera. Police say it has helped them identify suspects and stolen vehicles. Now the question is, are they worth the cost?

A public hearing will take place at the next Jackson City Council meeting to get feedback on whether or not the police department should use grant money to renew license plate readers.

Ten cameras were installed originally. The Jackson Police Department paid for the cameras, which were $2,500 each per year through a grant they typically receive yearly from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Public comment will allow residents to voice what they believe that money should be used for.

Deputy Chief Sergio Garcia said the cameras have been instrumental in helping them.

“Dealing with organized crime like retail rings that come from outside the community that come into the city. They’ve helped us identify suspects and gas station robberies that were taking place not only here but surrounding communities as well and not to mention stolen vehicles,” he said. “That is probably its biggest use is the stolen vehicles. We were able to get those turned around and back to the owners in times that were unheard of in the past.”

Civil rights groups have had issues with license plate recognition technology.

The Michigan American Civil Liberties Union says it could be easily abused by law enforcement as it could encroach on the public’s privacy.

Flock officials say they automatically delete data every 30 days on a rolling basis.

The next City Council meeting is Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

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