Automatic License Plate Readers record your information - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Automatic License Plate Readers record your information

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There can be a fine line between fighting crime and invading the privacy of innocent people. 

Many law-abiding citizens are willing to let police and the government use any tools necessary to keep them safe, but what happens when these tools malfunction or fall into the wrong hands?

Automatic License Plate Readers are a somewhat new technology, used by larger police departments that allow officers to record several license plates during a given shift. 

The technology is relatively simple.

Four small cameras are mounted to a patrol car, and it has the ability to record thousands of plate numbers as an officer patrols an area.

The ALPR then alerts the officer when a flagged license plate is registered to a person with a warrant or is a violent or sex offender, the car has been reported stolen, or the car has been involved in multiple parking infractions.

Des Moines Police Sergeant, Paul Parizek says, "the technology has the ability to do what a police officer can do, but (the technology works) 100 times faster."

Even though the technology helps track criminals, the system is not perfect.

Members of the Iowa ACLU say they are concerned the information also records license plate numbers of innocent people, and it has the ability to track an innocent person's location.

American Civil Liberties Union members say they're worried the information could fall into the wrong hands, and the information needs to be destroyed after a certain period of time.

Coming up at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19, we'll bring you an in-depth look at Automatic License Plate Readers, how they work, how long police departments keep the recorded information, how the Iowa ACLU is working with local police departments, which local police departments use the technology, and whether it's coming to a county near you.

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