Like some other municipalities, the city of Lilburn employs the use of license plate readers to capture the bad guys.
Bad guys include those who are driving around in stolen cars, people wanted for previous crimes, those who have abducted babies, and more.
In August, for example, the city used the special devices to alert them to a stolen car, which led them to eventually find a suspect hiding in the freezer of an Ingles grocery store.
-- Do you think the use of these license plate readers is justified, even if the plates of law-abiding citizens are also capture? Let us know in the comment section below. --
Typically, three automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) are mounted to patrol cars, and cansnap pictures of thousands of plates each day. Police are then able to quickly check the the plate's numbers against policy agency databases.
There is an alarm when a match is found, and the police officer's computer displays who the car is registered to and if the car is suspected in a crime, among other things.
The city of Lilburn has one, and the police department has used it for several years. Gwinnett County Police Department, which patrols unincorporated Lilburn, using them, as well.
But, while police departments are busily capturing the plates of could-be bady guys, they are also collecting information on anyone else who happens to drive by or be parked in the vicinity of the plate readers.
Like other police departments, Capt. Ben Haynes agrees that Lilburn Police Department sees the readers as a benefit -- one that outweighs public angst.
However, the ACLU worries that this could be a violation of privacy for law-abiding citizens. In July, the organization sent 587 requests to local police departments across the nation, including some in Georgia.
"When used in a narrow and carefully regulated way, ALPRs can help police recover stolen cars and arrest people with outstanding warrants, " the ACLU said on its website.
Still, the ACLU added that "police departments nationwide are using ALPR to quietly accumulate millions of plate records, storing them in backend databases. While we don’t know the full extent of this problem, we know that responsible deletion of data is the exception, not the norm."
So, what do you think Lilburn, is the automatic license plate reader used in the local police department an invasion of your privacy? Do you think the law enforcement tool is well worth it if criminal can be swooped off the streets? Let us know in the comment section.
See some of our other "Speak Out" stories, and comment on them, as well:
- Speak Out: Vacant Properties Got You Vexed?: Story highlights vacany information on several Lilburn shopping centers. Also, mentions the Main Street shopping area, with a comment from the mayor, Johnny Crist.
- Speak Out: Future of Old Blue Rooster Site: Story summarizes recent happenings with the Main Street property formerly the home of the Blue Rooster Cafe.
- Speak Out: Safety at Wells Fargo Banks: Following a robbery at the Lilburn Wells Fargo on Lawrenceville Highway, Patch asked readers what they thought of the security at local bank branches. This includes the lack of armed guards at Wells Fargo banks.