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Citing privacy, New Canaan BOS undecided on police readers

Updated 3:33 pm, Thursday, December 6, 2012
  • Captain Bender of the NCPD presents a request for a license plate reader to the Board of Selectmen on Dec. 4, 2012. The board chose not to move on the request. New Canaan, Conn. Photo: Tyler Woods
    Captain Bender of the NCPD presents a request for a license plate reader to the Board of Selectmen on Dec. 4, 2012. The board chose not to move on the request. New Canaan, Conn. Photo: Tyler Woods

 

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The Board of Selectmen Tuesday, Dec. 4, tabled the purchase of a $20,000 license plate reader system for the Police Department until it received more information.

"It's a couple cameras mounted on a police car that reads all the license plates that drive by," said New Canaan Police Capt. David Bender. "It will flag an expired vehicle, a vehicle that has parking tickets, a person who has an arrest warrant," and the police will be alerted to take action.

The board raised concerns about privacy and asked if only one license plate reader would be sufficient. Selectman Beth Jones was worried about whether the data recorded by the machine would be available under Freedom of Information Act requests.

"I'm concerned about the privacy issues," she said. "We had a question about FOI issues. I'm a little gun shy about how FOI can get out of control anyway."

First Selectman Robert Mallozzi noted that the town didn't set aside a specific amount of money for the reader, meaning it would have flexibility in purchasing, and might want to buy two to provide more coverage in town.

"This $20,000 was your budget request, but nothing says that we couldn't consider more than one of these," he said. "It might behoove us to talk about more than one car since we're off budget and would do it as a special appropriation."

There were also questions about whether the data could be erased after 14 days or would be kept ad infinitum.

The board decided to postpone a decision on the request pending further review.

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4413; @Woods_NCNews