License-plate reader debate continues

rpulley@lsjournal.comJuly 31, 2013 

A decision on whether the Lee’s Summit Police Department will continue using an automated license-plate reader is being delayed longer.

City Manager Steve Arbo at its July 25 meeting asked the City Council to send the issue back to the Community and Economic Development Committee for even more discussion.

Arbo noted the committee had given the council a verbal recommendation to go forward with using the device, but without storing the data.

Arbo said several other council members have asked for a written form of recommendation before discussing it during a meeting.

It could be either a resolution or ordinance, but those members wanted some that would create an official record, Arbo said.

Committee Member Derek Holland said the issue had to do with data storage.

“It’s a pretty good idea that this committee revisit it one more time,” Holland said.

The committee proposed using it only for a real-time matching license plates with a “hit” list of stolen automobiles or vehicles associated with crimes or owned by a convicted criminal, say a sex offender.

The issue has raised concerns by some council members over privacy abuses that could happen if the police department kept extensive records of the hits. Police officials said having the records stored for at least a while can be used in solving criminal investigations.

Approaches to holding the data varies between law agencies.

The Kansas City and Grandview police departments hold their “hits” in a database based on amount of storage available. Those departments don’t have a set amount of time for holding that data, the list is purged when the system is getting too full.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department keeps its data from automated-license plate readers 90 days, then it’s purged.

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