Longboat Key Police will install license plate readers - WFLA News Channel 8

Longboat Key Police will install license plate readers

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL -

The Town of Longboat Key will soon be keeping a close watch on every car that passes through the island.

In the next few weeks, the Longboat Key Police department will install license plate readers along the northern and southern ends of the key.

Police say it's an effort to stop criminals in their tracks.

There are only two ways to get on and off the island of Longboat Key.

In the next few weeks, the Longboat Key Police will be keeping an eye on every car that passes through.

"It is going to help us do our job better," said Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming.

Chief Cumming has finalized plans to install four license plate scanners on the island.

They will be set up along the two bridges to scan each car's license plate; while checking the numbers through a criminal database.

The four cameras cost $80,000, and have been paid for by police forfeiture funds.

Cumming said, "The cameras capture the image of just the license plate as it crosses through its field, not the whole car, not the occupants. Just the tag itself."

If a number is matched with a criminal, then officers are quickly dispatched.

It's all an effort to stop crime.

"This does no more than an officer's own eyes can do. But the officer is not there to do it," said Cumming.

But an ACLU attorney said this is an invasion of privacy.

ACLU Attorney Andrea Flynn Mogensen said, "It's kind of Orwellian. Big brother is watching."

Mogensen says these cameras serve as a warrant-less tracking device.

"Generally speaking, we have a right to privacy, even in public," she said. "You cannot put a GPS monitor on an individual as a law enforcement agency in the absence of reasonable suspicion for an extended period of time. Well functionally, agencies are doing the same thing by tracking our whereabouts."

The ACLU attorney says Longboat Key residents should speak up to their local lawmakers to make sure their tag numbers aren't recorded.

"If there's enough public outcry, we might see some type of response," said Mogensen.

Chief Cumming said the public shouldn't be concerned. "This technology does what an officer does only quicker," said Cumming.

Cumming said the crime rate in his island is low, and he hopes these cameras can help keep it that way.

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