25 cameras to capture photos of license plates for police considered by Kent County Sheriff

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is looking to deploy 25 cameras across the county that will capture the license plates of passing vehicles.

In a statement to MLive/The Grand Rapids Press, Kent County Sheriff’s Office officials said they intend to meet with county and township stakeholders to develop a plan for the deployment of reconnaissance cameras. automatic registration plates in the first half of 2022.

According to officials, the technology has shown promise in helping law enforcement solve cases and reduce crime.

“Advanced License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology is currently being deployed across the country and has proven to be an effective resource in reducing crime, recovering stolen property, locating missing or endangered persons (AMBER Alerts , SILVER) and as an investigative resource for finding violent offenders,” Kent County Sheriff’s Office officials said in the statement.

The only other county law enforcement agency using the cameras is the Wyoming Police Department, which was expected to complete their installation around February.

Kent County’s 25 license plate capture cameras are from the same company, Flock Safety, as those deployed by Wyoming.

Wyoming Police Chief Kim Koster previously told MLive that the cameras are installed at intersections and capture video along with every license plate and the make, model and colors of vehicles passing through them.

Officers can enter a license plate or vehicle description into the system and it will notify them if and when vehicles matching the plate or description are detected passing that intersection, Koster previously said.

Related: Wyoming police install 12 cameras to capture and detect license plates to reduce crime

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office began exploring the technology after learning of a partnership between Flock Safety and major county sheriffs across America to provide a free 12-month trial of the cameras.

The technology has received some pushback.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the technology, arguing that it represents a “significant invasion of privacy” by tracking the location of people over their lifetime.

“Automatic license plate readers have the potential to create permanent records of virtually anywhere any of us have driven, radically transforming the consequences of leaving home to pursue privacy and opening up many possibilities for ‘abuse”, according to the statement on the ACLU website.

“In our society, it is a fundamental principle that the government does not invade people’s privacy and collect information about the innocent activities of citizens in case they do something wrong. Clear regulations must be put in place to prevent the government from tracking our movements on a large scale. »

Kent County Sheriff’s Office officials say the information captured by the cameras will only be used for criminal investigations and not for tracking or monitoring residents.

“Information obtained from the LPR camera system cannot positively identify the driver of a vehicle, will not be used to track or monitor typical day-to-day activities of citizens or visitors to Kent County, and information obtained from the LPR system will be restricted and used for criminal investigations,” officials said in the statement.

Nearby Kalamazoo installed 35 automatic license plate recognition cameras, also from Flock Safety, in October. Officials in Kalamazoo and Wyoming said the camera installations were responding to an increase in violence.

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