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ACLU questions police camera database

If you've driven through Troy, a picture of your plate could live on a computer.

"It's a tool that the police have and the public should be glad we have," said Captain John Cooney.

Two license plate readers are scanning streets and alerting police if there's a problem with the record connected to that plate.

"They're out and being used every day," Cooney said.

"The problem the ACLU finds with it is that it collects way way too much data on too many innocent people," said Melanie Trimble, Capital Region Chapter Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its New York office collected data from hundreds of police departments implementing this technology.  It believes your privacy rights are on the line with photos of your car here and there, and worries over "the way the information is stored, what agencies the information is shared with and how long they retain the information," Trimble said.

But it gives police an extra eye, and they tell us readers have led to arrests.

"There's not much of an expectation of privacy for someone not to be able to see or look at your license plate," Cooney said.  "That's what our camera is doing.  It's looking at, recognizing, and in a sense writing it down in its database."

That database would only be used in a criminal investigation, when it would help police to know where a certain car might have been.  The ACLU is first asking departments to consider hard copy policies, since it says too many don't have any.

"If law enforcement agencies don't have the resources or the wherewithal to do it then we would look to legislation to direct them to do it," Trimble said.

Collar City cops will grow their force by adding another reader next week.
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