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Police License Plate Tech Gets Green Light in Dayton, Ohio

The controversial proposal to allow the Dayton Police Department to use license plate-reading technology was approved by a narrow margin this week. Opponents of the tech cite privacy as a main concern.

(TNS) — After more than two hours of debate and public comments, the Dayton City Commission tonight voted 3 to 2 in favor of allowing the Dayton Police Department to use automated license plate reader technology.

Following a public hearing during the city commission meeting, Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr. and commissioners Chris Shaw and Matt Joseph voted in favor of authorizing the use of the devices.

Police say the cameras scan license plates and alert officers when the information matches vehicles that are stolen or connected to felony or domestic violence crimes, criminal suspects or Amber or Silver alerts.

Mims said about 1,000 other communities use plate readers, and Dayton is just now catching up.

Commissioner Joseph said he believes the technology, if properly used, will be beneficial and could help make Dayton safer.

But Dayton city commissioners Darryl Fairchild and Shenise Turner-Sloss voted against moving forward with the technology.

Turner-Sloss said community members' concerns about privacy and the potential for misuse were not addressed.

Fairchild, who grilled Dayton police officials about the technology, said the city and police did not provide evidence or research showing plate readers reduce crime.

Fairchild also said he's worried use of the devices could violate people's Fourth Amendment rights.

He called for putting additional safeguards in place to ensure that plate readers and the data they collect aren't used inappropriately.

About 14 community members spoke during the public hearing, and the speakers were evenly split in support and opposition.

Some business owners said they want to give police new tools to help better crack down on crime and dangerous illegal driving behaviors, which they say are damaging property and putting lives at risk.

Some community members said there's no proof the cameras help catch criminals and deter crime and also that they are not worth the trade off of infringing on people's privacy and civil rights.

Before the meeting, 65 people submitted written comments, and most opposed the readers.

Many people in written comments claimed police did not comply with the city's own requirements needed to adopt new surveillance technology.

Police plan to activate plate readers in all of the department's 120 cruisers and acquire fixed-site cameras to install in neighborhoods that want them, police officials say.

Officials say neighborhoods will get fixed readers only if they ask for them and if crime statistics justify their use.

©2022 the Dayton Daily News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.