To the Editor: On Monday evening, I had the opportunity to listen to Cranston Police Col. Michael Winquist outline the recently installed license plate reader program to the City Council. No one can dispute the early results of this program in helping to
To the Editor:
On Monday evening, I had the opportunity to listen to Cranston Police Col. Michael Winquist outline the recently installed license plate reader program to the City Council. No one can dispute the early results of this program in helping to prevent and identify criminal activity in our city. Every resident should take comfort in knowing that the police have this tool available to them in their daily charge to protect lives and property in our community.
For those who claim that such a program is an invasion of privacy or “big brother” keeping tabs on innocent people, I suggest the public safety benefits and results far outweigh this perceived imbalance. First, the program is not identifying individuals in their cars. It is scanning a license plate, not taking a picture of the driver or occupants. If a car is identified for possible criminal connections, the police implement their protocols to follow up on the vehicle.
Driving on public roads is a licensed privilege that is given by the state. The government requires cars to be registered for identification purposes and to ensure safe vehicles are on the roads for everyone’s protection. Is anyone challenging the state’s authority to implement those requirements? The license plate reader program is an extension of that governmental authority.
The police are not reading license plates to track someone’s daily trips or monitor everyday routines. The colonel outlined procedures in effect to limit access by personnel to the collected data, a reasonable time limit to retain the information and the level of security and encryption utilized by the vendor source.
The police start their tour of duty every day with the sworn resolve to protect us against some dangerous criminals in society and in our community. This license plate reader program is one tool they can use to protect us from those who prey on frail senior citizens, a distracted business owner or a family just trying to enjoy the comforts of their home and property.
If we can level the playing field with this law enforcement program it is worthy of support. The constitutionality of such a program can be sorted out in our courts when and if someone challenges its use. Respectfully, the City Council is not the forum to draw those conclusions.
Robert D. Murray