License plate reader headed to Walker County
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 00:10
The Walker County Comissioners’ Court approved the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) grant for the purchase of a license plate reader on Oct. 9.
The license plate reader, also known as automatic license plate readers (ALPR), track license plate locations through stationary cameras. They are becoming routinely used in police cars where they are mounted to the dashboard, however Walker County is only buying one stand-alone camera.
The lone stationary reader will be set up somewhere unrevealed in Walker County and will record the plate, time, date and location of every car that passes. The reader stores the information.
“[The grant] was approved; now we’re waiting,” Butch Davis, Walker County’s Chief Deputy and Emergency Management Coordinator, said. “It has to go back to the Feds to release the money.”
The information stored can aid police in finding stolen vehicles or missing persons. While police can use the data in cases against criminals, it can also be accessed by anybody who files a public records request.
“It’s good, but potentially bad if it gets in the wrong hands,” Michael Doherty, senior criminal justice major, said. “The good part being: we will be able to catch car thieves faster and potentially criminals… we could use it to find somebody after a recently committed crime.”
Other people felt that the information gathered through the reader could too easily fall into the wrong hands as well.“That’s kind of creepy,” Josefina Trevino, freshman education major, said about the license plate reader. “We already have stalkers and don’t need them looking up our information.”
The SHSP grant was applied for in this year’s fiscal budget. According to Davis the grant money should be received towards the end of the year.