Bill looks to curb plate readers

Law enforcement could be faced with restrictions when using license plate readers to store information on drivers including location data and photos.

A new bill proposed by Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing could set stricter guidelines on how law enforcement stores information on drivers.

The bill, which will be submitted sometime next week, aims to regulate license plate readers, or LPRs, used by police.

Readers are used to scan a vehicle to check the driver and vehicle for criminal involvement.

There currently are no regulations in place to limit how long police departments could store the information obtained on drivers. Information includes the time, date and location at which each plate was read.

The bill would ban LPRs from taking pictures of drivers and more clearly define the situations in which LPRs can be used.

In Singh’s bill, all data that has no compelling need to be kept would be deleted after 48 hoursSb.

The issue has raised the displeasure of those in favor of civil liberties, criminal justice professor David Carter said in an email.

“Many law enforcement leaders argue they would like to keep this information for six months to a year because it can be a valuable investigative tool,” he said in the email, adding that it is an issue of what police might do with such data.

Although he has not had direct conversations with law enforcement officials, Singh is confident the bill will not hinder the effectiveness of the police.

According to Singh, both East Lansing and Lansing police departments have at least three LPRs.

MSU police Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor said that MSU police do have LPRs, but they are not fully operational at present. Taylor said police will not operate LPRs prior to a written policy being put in place.

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