License plate scanners could soon pop up across Cuyahoga County

(Source: WOIO)
(Source: WOIO)

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - You've heard the debate about traffic cameras. Now get ready for the tug of war over license plate scanners.

Cuyahoga County Council is now considering putting fixed position license plate scanners in Cleveland and in 18 county suburbs.

"They are an enhancement of the existing tool and to be used at high volume intersections," said South Euclid Police Chief Kevin Neitert said,

Neitert is referring to the fact that license plate scanners have been approved by the courts and that many local police departments already use a license plate scanner system that is carried on department squad cars.

While in use, the scanners can vacuum up and analyze license plate numbers from passing cars to determine whether that vehicle is connected to illegal activity.

The South Euclid chief stressed the scanners are invaluable during patrols, and as an investigative tool.

That makes some sense to Cleveland resident Kelly Fleming.

"I guess for crime-fighting purposes it doesn't really bother me, but it does concern me that there is a lack of privacy that we get," she said.

And the privacy issue is why the American Civil Liberties Union is involved. Here's their position on the issue.

The ACLU claims license plate readers pose privacy risks, calling the whole process, "Pervasive permanent monitoring."

License Plate monitoring has been ruled constitutional in the courts and Cuyahoga County Council has sent the legislation to the Public Safety Committee for discussion.

Proponents say the information is not used for tracking purposes, that it's only used for crime fighting.

The ACLU. and some others want to be sure of that, "I usually don't like it when police are scanning my information for no reason at all. I think they need a reason to, it would make a lot more sense," said Clevelander Eric Taglieri.

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