Charlottesville police proposing addition of license plate reading cameras to stoplights
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville police are working to add license plate reading cameras to stoplights, but the proposal is already creating some privacy concerns.
CPD says 85% of the the city’s shootings in the past year included somebody arriving at and leaving the scene of a shooting in a car.
Police say adding these cameras would allow them to more easily find and track suspect vehicles, but the cameras also gather data from every car that passes by.
CPD says it is trying to find a balance between public safety and public privacy.
“Every murder that we had this year involved a vehicle, and several of them, there was a description of a suspect vehicle, either right when it happened, or shortly thereafter,” CPD Chief Michael Kochis said.
Chief Kochis says this technology will spot, flag, and notify investigators when a suspect vehicle passes by one of the cameras.
“It’s a series of license plate reader cameras, not video cameras. It’s still pictures that takes pictures of license plates, or the rear front of a car,” Kochis said.
Other departments across the state say they have seen success from the cameras.
“It’s being used in jurisdictions like Norfolk, Portsmouth, Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax. Norfolk has seen a 40% reduction in violent crime since implementing it,” Kochis said.
CPD says it is taking extra precautions to make sure the technology is not misused.
“I’ve asked that the executive director of the Police Civilian Oversight Board have full access to the program to be able to audit the system anytime,” Kochis said.
Charlottesville City Council is echoing similar remarks.
“We want to do everything within our power that’s safe and doesn’t infringe on people’s civil liberties,” Councilor Brian Pinkston said.
Chief Kochis says this technology would cost $100,000 over the first three years, and that the funding would come from donations, not taxpayer revenue.
The next step in the proposal is to schedule a public comment session on the implementation of the cameras.
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