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Local police departments receive grant for license plate readers
COLONIE -- Five Capital Region law enforcement agencies will receive state grants to expand their use of license plate readers. Statewide, departments will receive more than $500,000.
In Colonie, the police department is planning to install a permanently mounted reader on Central Avenue this summer. Albany already has at least one similar reader in the city.
Technology, technology information exchange, that's the way we solve crimes today. Being able to track criminals, being able to track the cars they drive, where they're driving; these are very important tools in the criminal investigative process, said Colonie Chief Steven Heider.
Colonie received $50,000 to add two readers in the town. It already has license plate readers mounted on some patrol cars.
Last year, Heider said data from a plate reader helped solve a sexual assault case in Albany after part of the suspects plate was captured on a gas station surveillance camera.
We matched that information up with names, where people had used their license to gain entry to an establishment in the city of Albany; it led us to the suspects, said Heider.
The state gave grants to install seven new readers in five area departments. Police agencies in Niskayuna, Glenville, the city of Rensselaer and Washington County also received funding.
There are privacy concerns with the license plate readers. Some are concerned about potential misuse with thousands of vehicle data being collected.
Unfortunately these cameras capture everything. All kinds of innocent people driving through traffic are captured so our concerns are police storing this information? What are they doing with the information?, said Melanie Trimble with the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Colonie says the data goes to a Albany Crime Analysis Center and is only accessed with specific criteria.
The chance of an average citizen even being queried based on that is only if they're a victim of a crime or a defendant of a crime, said Heider. Of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of vehicles that are tracked we may look at ten over the course of a year.