License Plate Readers Gathering More Data Than Long Island Police Can Keep Up With

Every vehicle entering or leaving town is tracked by one of 27 fixed security cameras.

FREEPORT, N.Y. — License plate readers in this Long Island town are quite effective for police trying to locate criminals. But Freeport Police Chief Miguel Bermudez says his team of 95 officers cannot keep up with the amount of data coming in.

“We can use many more” officers, Bermudez told CBS News. Bermudez hopes to get seven more officers to cut down on the rising amount of overtime his team is working.

Every vehicle is tracked by the 27 fixed surveillance cameras at each of Freeport’s 11 entry points. And so far the cameras have been a success, leading to 28 arrests. One arrest was of a murder suspect from Norfolk, Va.

Alarms are sounded when a stolen vehicle or car associated with an Amber alert is spotted. But part of the rise in data is due to vehicles with minor violations such as suspended registrations showing up in the system, which contrasts with why the system was installed in the first place.

“We were looking at stolen vehicles or vehicles wanted in crimes,” Bermudez said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is concerned with where all the data ends up.

“All of that data is being stored somewhere,” Jason Starr of the ACLU said. “It can be shared. It can be pulled. It can be sent to other law enforcement agencies. It can be breached by third parties.”

Bermudez denies the suspected abuse of the data, saying it’s dumped after 180 days and only used when a person is linked to a crime.

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