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Memorial Villages Considering License Plate Recognition Cameras

Several municipalities are considering license plate recognition cameras. Officials from Bunker Hill, Piney Point and Hunters Creek Village have authorized a feasibility study on placing cameras along designated streets and intersections.

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Several municipalities are considering license plate recognition cameras. Officials from Bunker Hill, Piney Point and Hunters Creek Village have authorized a feasibility study on placing cameras along designated streets and intersections.

The three cities jointly operate the Memorial Villages Police Department. They’re interested in cameras that note the license plate of every vehicle crossing city limits and notify police if the plate is linked to a crime.

Douglas Brinkley with the Sugar Land Police Department says they have 73 cameras that have been fully operational since 2015.

“In the first quarter we had way more hits because — lessons learned over time — we had multiple databases that had the same information. So we reduced the scope of what we needed, and that resulted in a lesser number of hits there,” he said.

There are privacy concerns — not about taking license plate photos, but about being able to track personal habits by following a person over the course of weeks and months.

“You know, if you have a network of these and you’re storing the data, it could be possible for an officer to go back and track someone’s movements. And look on your phone at where you’ve been in the day, you can actually see a lot about what you did that day based on just your movements,” said Matt Simpson with the ACLU in Austin.

Sugar Land Police Chief Brinkley said the system notifies police only if the license plate has been linked to a crime.

“We keep the data no more than 30 days, unless we need license plates that are involved in criminal activity and we keep those a little bit longer,” Brinkley said.

The ACLU says it’s important to have front-end policies in place on the use of this technology. Results from the feasibility study are expected in May.

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