Cuyahoga County Plans License Plate Scanner Program for 19 Municipalities


Cuyahoga County Council will debate a proposed program that would place license plate scanners at intersections in 19 municipalities, including Cleveland.

Already, police departments around the county use license plate scanners in their patrol cars, allowing officers to immediately detect outstanding warrants and additional information. This county program would mount these scanners in one intersection in each participating city (see below). The information from those scanners would be shared across the county's law enforcement agencies.

Along with Cleveland, the scanners will be installed at intersections in Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Fairview Park, Garfield Heights, Independence, Lakewood, Lyndhurst, Maple Heights, Mayfield Heights, North Olmsted, Olmsted Township, Orange Village, Parma, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, Strongsville and Woodmere — as well as in University Circle. Each community will select its preferred intersection for installation, like Ontario and Carnegie in Cleveland. No sign will be posted to alert drivers.

"We've been working on this for some time, and this is a game-changer," Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said during his state of the county address earlier this year.

The $870,338 purchase from a company called Selex (aka ELSAG) was introduced on Tuesday. Most of the money would come from 2016 U.S. Department of Homeland Security "Urban Areas Security Initiative" grant funding. About $120,000 will come from the county's general fund.

Installation would be complete by next summer, and the proposed "project" would run for three years.

One can expect that the impending committee debate should include concerns voiced by the ACLU over the years — concerns that license plate scanner technology can be used to collect innocent drivers' information, as well. While the stated purpose of the law enforcement database is to improve safety and assist departments in solving crimes, there's reason to debate the merits of storing the additional information that will be collected. The county resolution doesn't include specifics on how long, for instance, data will be maintained in the system.

Even the FBI has had this debate within its halls. (The feds have since resumed purchasing the devices.)

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