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Morning Poll: License Plate Readers

by ARLnow.com December 29, 2010 at 9:04 am 5,924 109 Comments

Those cameras mounted on the back of some Arlington police cruisers are actually quite effective at catching criminals, it turns out.

Arlington Police make at least one arrest per day thanks to the cameras, which snap photos of passing license plates and compare them to a database of stolen cars and wanted subjects. According to an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week, the cameras can process up to 100,000 license plates per hour.

“It’s quick and efficient,” Arlington police Capt. Kevin Reardon told the Times.

Not everybody supports the cameras, however. Privacy watchdogs have raised questions about whether the technology can be abused or used to keep tabs on innocent people.

What do you think?


  • Greg

    Jury’s still out for me on this. I think it’s worth a trial run to see how it pans out. If used responsibly, great! …but the potential for abuse raises significant “who watches the watchmen?” questions.

  • I’m all for personal privacy. I’ll tell a cop to buzz off when he asks “where are you headed tonight”, but I’m glad plate readers are being used more often.

    If you are driving on a public road, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy — at least on the exterior of your car. They should expand this to catch people with outstanding tickets and property taxes as well.

    • Burger

      Bingo. No expectation of privacy on a license plate.

      • Arlington, Northside

        For better or worse, true.

    • ClarGirl

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • The Pope of South Arlington

      “They should expand this to catch people with outstanding tickets and property taxes as well.”

      Or maybe just you can donate half your paycheck Mr. Tejada’s Save an Illegal Alien Fund? What kind of cringing lick-spittle statement was that?!?!?!

      • Arlington, Northside

        I do not know why anyone that pays their poperty tax would be opposed to the use of this system to enforce the payment of said tax by others. Even if you think your taxes are too high, everyone should be paying their share.

        • The Pope of South Arlington

          The taxes of those who do pay go in the pockets of those who dont. You could bring back the tax collector, make a whole army of them and send them into south Arlington and you’d be lucky come out with a handful of pesos!

          • V Dizzle

            Dude, you need a hug.

          • mehoo

            I can’t believe you haven’t found a nice foreclosed property in North Arlington where you can escape from the slums yet.

    • R.Griffon

      +1

    • Dude Where’s My Car

      Man, I can hardly wait until the VA DOTVariable Message Signs, brought to you by Google Homeland Security, start asking you how are those hemorrhoid suppositories working out for you? 50% Groupon discount on Preparation H if you check in using Foursquare to a CVS in the next 10 minutes? Would you like driving directions with that? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQbVD5hlddk

  • MrStevens

    100% against. See the following Washington Post article about how these cameras were bought under the guise of “Homeland Security” but used for anything but:

    http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/monitoring-america/?hpid=topnews

    The story is spread across a few pages, but the second or third talks about the plate readers.

    • R.Griffon

      Good. It may be a stretch to call it homeland security, but this way at least SOME of the money from the “War on Terror” is going to fight real crime and produce real results.

  • V Dizzle

    Guess it’s time to change out my “CRIMINAL” tags with the light house print.

  • RR

    You can be sure they are keeping a databse on who is seen where and when. Once the data exists, it can only be misused.

    • MrStevens

      Is there some sort of transparent paint that can be applied to the license plate that would cause it to not be read by these scanners?

      • TGEoA

        Even if such technology existed (and currently there isn’t any) that would be illegal. License plates belong to the issuing state, not the owner of the vehicle.

        • CW

          What about this? It is designed to “blur” the image from speed cameras, but it may be applicable to these scanning cameras as well. The jury is out as to whether it works, and the legality of it all is a very gray area:

          http://www.beatthecamera.com/

          • charlie

            does it blur or just cause a glare? the police cameras don’t have a flash, from what I’ve seen, so it probably won’t have same impact.
            regardless, don’t deface state property (your tags).

          • Wolf_N_Sheep

            Are you planning on committing a crime or simply want criminals who read this to be able to thwart the cameras? This is no different than a police officer running your plates. Calm down.

          • MrStevens

            They do have powerful infra-red lights though.

          • Zoning Victim

            They don’t work. I saw a special on them with regards to speed cams, and if the flash does reflect off the plate enough to make the plate unreadable, they just look at it in the negative and it’s easily readable. Of course, that’s when a human is reading an image, but I’m sure a good developer of this kind of software could figure out how to do the same thing with the recognition software.

          • CSI

            I saw a crime show where some criminals were using special infrared LED lights attached to their collars to blur their faces from video cameras, I bet someone could develop something similar for license plate blurring.

      • Rover

        Yes. It is called mud. Splatter it on your plate. Don’t make the plate totally illegible. But, if you make it illegible enough a computer may not be able to identify all the characters of the plate if they are partially obscured.

    • Sam

      Right. On every car that passes, they log the coordinates, license plate, and date/time. Assuming the system meets its threshold of 100,000 cars/hour, do you have any idea how much data they’d transfer over the course of one day per police cruiser? We’re talking terabytes upon terabytes, per day. While you’re theory is creative, it is certainly not feasible for this use. There are better ways of doing what you’re suggesting (i.e. stationery cameras on buildings that can connect directly to a network without being mobile).

      Furthermore, what does it get? If I’m driving up N Glebe past Ballston Mall, and they log my location, what does that get them? How do they know that I didn’t turn onto 66 to go into the city or to Fairfax? How do they know that I didn’t turn left onto Wilson to go into Falls Church? It doesn’t give them any usable information.

      • JamesE

        They make a log entry every time I drive to Wendy’s

        • Sam

          Who does? Arlington County Police? Why would they log your trips to Wendy’s?

      • Rover

        Terabytes per day per cruiser? Hardly.

        You travel Glebe Road every day at 4 p.m. Cops record your plate over a period of time proving this. Then, a bank is robbed on Glebe Road at 4:02 p.m. Amazingly, you get a knock on your door that evening while putting the kids to bed…..

      • Rover

        Here’s another scenerio. You travel through the ghetto every day to get to work. You’ve told the insurance company you travel 12 miles each way for work, and they set your rates. The cops build a database of your travels by photographing your tags in the ghetto. At some point in the future, the cops are hard up for funding (hardly unreasonable) and sell their database to the insurance companies. Suddnely, because you travel through a high crime rate area, your insurance rates rise.

    • R.Griffon

      Misued how, exactly? I’m still waiting for a single person to explain a real negative repercussion of the police knowing that my state registered vehicle was driving on a state road at a given time and place. Educate us, please.

      And by the way, if you’re so opposed to anyone else knowing your whereabouts, I hope you’ve never used a cell phone. Because that can be used by corporations (who aren’t subject to the same rules regarding the storage, protection, and release of your information) to track your locations and movements any time your phone is on. Which for most people is 24/7, even in the privacy of your own home.

  • Darwin

    Guilty until proven innocent, why not just put RFID in all drivers licenses (soon to be replaced with the National ID card or “Real ID”) and check everyone as they walk around all day to make sure they aren’t a criminal? I suppose I have no reasonable expectation of privacy when I ride the metro and should forfeit my 4th amendment right and allow police to search my person without reasonable suspicion or probable cause? Let’s start another poll, are we 20 or 30 years from needing papers to travel within the US? It would be for our “safety” after all.

    • Burger

      You already have a national ID card. It is called your social security number and if you are over the age of 18 most states require you to carry your driver’s license or residents card with you so your argument lacks some basis in the real world.

      I agree with your position that random searches on the metro is an entirely different issue but that is because there is a relationship to the intrusiveness of the search/seizure. In other words, you are not being stopped when a cop car drives by and takes a picture of your license plate to determine until there is an issue whereas on the metro you are being stopped prior to being searched.

      • Sam

        I disagree. The Social Security card is one ID card specifically for use by the Social Security Administration. SSNs can be reused and are not unique by themselves. And not everyone has an SSN if they aren’t registered with SSA.

        • Burger

          Let me know when a company doesn’t ask for your SSN to work there, open a credit line, or anything financial? It, for all practical purposes, it is a national id number.

          Your point on reuse is a complete red herring since an additional number(s) letters could be added to make it unique.

          • Zoning Victim

            No, it’s not. It isn’t even close to an ID card because there is no way to tell if the person holding the card is actually the person for which the card was issued without an actual ID card to go with it. In fact, it is illegal to require SSN as an identifier during business transactions.

            If it were a national ID, then it would be tracked a lot better than it is now. Illegals use other people’s SSN to get jobs freequently, which means that in some cases there are people out there who have money coming into the SSA under their SSN from two different full time jobs that are across the country from each other. No system that is so poorly deisgned that it cannot recoganize the fact that someone cannot hold two full time jobs thousands of miles away from each other can be considered an ID system. I even know someone whose SSN was assigned to someone else decades ago. Both parties were in their 50’s before one of them discovered it.

      • MrStevens

        I’m looking at my SS Card right now (natural born citizen of the US of A), and on the back it states:

        “Improper use of this card and/or number by the number holder or any other person is punishable by fine, imprisonment or both.”

        Of course it doesn’t say what is proper or improper usage, so someone else can chime in (or look it up on the SSA’s website)

    • Sam

      Real ID is not an actual card but a set of standards that must be implemented on drivers’ licenses nationally, such as a magnetic and optical barcode and verification of residence and legal status. All of which Virigina already perform. The current VA license (the purple/white one with the see-through photo) already conforms to Real ID standards.

      • MrStevens

        I’ll keep my VA DL (non REAL ID compliant) through 2017 until it expires.

    • The Pope of South Arlington

      I gotta better idea, lets start a petition to remove the cameras and any board member that disagrees.

    • Wolf_N_Sheep

      Again…this is NO different than a police officer running your plates. It simply is a different method of a technique already employed. You don’t run into 4th Amendment problems until you are unlawfully SEARCHED. Always be vigilant with yor freedom, but let’s not get carried away. Every time I have ever been pulled over it was because I was breaking the law, and half the time I was let off without consequence. Calm down.

      • Zoning Victim

        Obviously, there is no 4th Amendment violations in what they are doing, but a police officer manually running plates here and there is usually in response to some kind of suspicion; they don’t have all day to sit around and run plates for no reason. Saying that a system that can track 100,000 per hour is the same thing as the police running your plate is nonsense. There is a difference between an invasion of privacy and an illegal search. Just because it isn’t illegal doesn’t mean it’s prudent to have a system by which our government can track our movements.

        • charlie

          a great study a few years ago showed a DIRECT CORRELATION between cars with fault equipment (individual headlights out, expired tags) and criminal activity of the owner of the car. It was pretty impressive study.

  • Boognish

    As it is, authorities can find where you are based on your cell phone signal, your shopping habits are thoroughly tracked through the use of safeway/giant/cvs/etc “bonus cards”, and pretty much anybody can find your address and get a satellite image of your house on the internet. We crossed into Big-Brother territory over 10 years ago with barely an outcry, so if you’re outraged about license plate readers for privacy concerns then a) you have bigger things to worry about than that, and b) you’re about a decade too late.

    • Zoning Victim

      I think you’ll find that the same people have always been against anything like this, but they just keep losing the fight. Then the government (or corporations) just keep pushing the envlope to see how far they can go. I, for one, think that bonus cards should be illegal.

  • MB

    Not a fan, and as RR notes above, ripe for abuse.

  • As long as its use is carefully controlled (no logging of location of any plate that doesn’t pop hot) then I think this is a good tool. All this is doing is automating a process that already could be done by hand, it simply increases their efficiency.

    • Zoning Victim

      That’s what everyone said about background investigations for people who purchase firearms; so the law specificially stated that the FBI had to destroy the records. Many years later the FBI finally had to admit that they were breaking the law by retaining the records, thereby creating a national database of gun owners. Whether or not you think there should be one, I think that case underscores how trustworthy our government is with the information we provide them.

      • On the plus side current data storage and retrieval really would not support a useful utilization of the data if they did try to store it… Although the potential for future mis-use is possible.

  • Fo’Shizzle

    Much ado about nothing.

  • Rick

    This is a plot to get all you conspiracy theorists on public transit, or to stay home. As long as they don’t radar I could not care less who sees my plates.

  • charlie

    this is why i like to pay my insane taxes to Arlington County.
    I honestly love this.
    Technology working to make our streets safer.
    Ever watch Philadelphia Parking Wars? They use the same technology for tax issues.
    I’d even let Frank O’Leary put one on his car so he can go get more money for Ingrid and her coffers.
    BRING IT ON.
    Technology does make the world better.

  • Darwin

    Nixon would be envious of today’s government’s power of intrusion against law abiding citizens!

  • Matt

    I strongly doubt the county would even care to store the amount of information to log the location of even a small sample of plates. The most direct return on investment is to check for existing violations. If you don’t break the law, you have nothing to worry about.
    We had similar debates in Illinois regarding our IPass tollway passes. There was an idea passed around that the state could calculate the amount of time it takes to pass through tollgates, hence determining your speed over that distance. It would be difficult to argue that if the speed limit is, for example, 60mph and you covered the 30 miles between two toll plazas in less than 30 minutes you weren’t speeding. Simple math.
    Lesson: pay your taxes, pay your tickets, do the right thing and this won’t affect you in the least.

    • Rick

      You forgot to add “Know your role and shut your mouth”

  • JamesE

    I only have the rear license plate so I guess I only get tracked and data mined 50% of the time.

    • Arlington, Northside

      SO are you military with a waver to keep your out of state registered vehicle here? A scofflaw who is avoiding paying to register your car in the place you are a resident? Or just one of those folks that don’t think the two plate rule applies to you since it might mess up the look of your ride? 😉

      • JamesE

        last one, there really is no bracket for a front plate also I feel obligated to have no front plate due to the insanely high car tax I pay.

        • Arlington, Northside

          I brand you a scofflaw.

        • Matt

          “I feel obligated to have no front plate “…. ahh the land of the entitled Arlingtonians

          • JamesE

            That was a joke, but I would do the same anywhere else.

        • charlie

          good luck with that excuse. all car makes sell brackets for those of us in two-plate states. ignorance of the law is not an excuse — i’ve seen it tired, it doesn’t work.

          • JamesE

            2 years now, numerous officers looking right at it, I don’t think they care. The factory bracket is held on by 3M tape. I’d gladly pay the $80-100 fine because it looks so terrible.

  • The Pope of South Arlington

    What a novel concept, have the whole county give up its Fourth Amendment rights for “one arrest per day”! This camera is for generating traffic ticket revenue. What Cops dont seem to understand is that every dime they milk outta the public goes into the coffers of these terminally politicians – youre policing yourself outta existence! Keep writing them tickets boys, Walter Tejeda needs a new soccer field and Clarendon needs another Section 8 baptist theme park!

    • Arlington, Northside

      I would assume that the arrests are for folks with warrents or cars reported stolen. If it gets one violent criminal or car theif off the road a month it just might be worht the money spent. Now for all the parking tickets and boots that will be placed due to this device, leave that to the parking enforcement folks and let the Police Officers work to stop and deter crime, and stop all the speeding through neighborhood streets.

    • The Dope of South Arlington

      Which Fourth Amendment rights am I giving up when my publically displayed license plate is read by this device?

      • Wolf_N_Sheep

        You will never get an answer to that question. This is all drive-by whining. Drive-by, get it?

  • Dude Where’s My Car

    The voice from the telescreen was still pouring forth its tale of drone strikes against insurgents. But where? Afghanistan? Pakistan? Iraq? Winston wasn’t even sure where the front was. He was pretty sure that we had always been at war with Them, whoever They were. He picked indifferently at his 900-calorie scone as a barista bussed the adjacent table. He skimmed a blog post on his netbook about the new license plate readers that were being deployed: ‘Vast strategic deployment — perfect tracking of terrorists and criminals and illegal aliens — amazing technological triumph against those who wish to do us harm.’ He chewed a dry, cloying lump of the biscuit, and thought “Yes! Crush them! Kill the bastards!” The long hoped-for bullet was entering his brain. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! Two caramel macchiato-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

    • This comment is approved by the Ministry of Truth.

    • V Dizzle

      Haha, nice.

  • MrStevens

    One problem: Owners and drivers are not always the same.

    Can you imagine being in a felony traffic stop because the owner of the vehicle (which you are authorized to drive and insured under) has some sort of warrant for their arrest — even for a non-violent crime?

    • Arlington, Northside

      That is why you carry your drivers license with you.

    • anon

      That’s your problem for driving a felon’s car. Show your i.d. and you’ll be on your way.

      It is reasonable to suspect the owner of the car is the driver, and its perfectly legal to pull it over.

    • Wolf_N_Sheep

      As long as you are not inconvenienced in the pursuit of justice MrStevens I suppose it is ok.

    • charlie

      keep better company. most of my felon friends are not on the loose but in county-built and secured facilities.

      • MrStevens

        Do you do background checks on everyone you associate with?

        Have you ever borrowed a friends or family members car? Do you do background checks on them before you do so?

        • charlie

          i have never borrowed a car and no one will ever borrow any of mine.

          as for my friends, no, i don’t do background checks, but i can assure you that none of my friends are felons. 100% certain. well there are two who are felons, and i know that, but the sex is just too good.

  • CanCommonSensePrevail?

    Many of you give yourselves too much credit. The police don’t care about where you’ve been or where you are going. This is merely a tool used to catch people who are currently involved in illegal activity and recover the stolen property of citizens. The information obtained by the tag readers simply makes the job of the cops a little easier. Would you rather your tax money go to the salaries of 1,000 extra cops who will be spread around the county to stand on street corners and manually verify the tag of every car that drives by and note the time, date, and location? There would be nothing illegal or overly intrusive with that. The tag readers just help the police do what they have always done, it just does it a lot faster and more efficiently.

    Further, this technology has opened an entirely new business opportunity for some. There are tag readers on privately owned vehicles that drive around at all times of the day and night. They download their data into a database which is available to anyone (for a fee) to find out where a specific tag was seen with the date, time, and location provided. I ran my own tag in this system and apparently I parked my car at my house on a specific date and time. Big friggin deal! This information is available free to the police (which helps them solve crimes). It is also sold to repo companies and bounty hunters to help them locate their targets.

    Finally, there is no expectation of privacy when you use a public roadway. Also, your license plate is the property of the state. There is no 4th Amendment issue with gathering public information, regardless of the technology used to collect it. And if you alter your license plate in anyway so that it hampers the ability to read it under any circumstances, you are guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor crime (Altered License Plates, 46.2-722) which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail. So I would suggest that you not attempt to alter your tag to avoid detection by the camera.

    • The Pope of South Arlington

      “The tag readers just help the police do what they have always done, it just does it a lot faster and more efficiently.”

      RIGHT, like write traffic tickets, I couldn’t of said it better myself! My License plates are state property but I’m not! And just like I dont have to ID myself to a Cop unless Ive been lawfully arrested or detained, this right is extended to my vehicle under the Fourth Amendment.

      Delaware v. Prouse 440 U.S. 648 (1979), the Supreme Court stated that, absent articulable and reasonable suspicion that a motorist is unlicensed or that an automobile is not registered, or that either the vehicle or an occupant is otherwise subject to seizure for violation of law, stopping an automobile and detaining the driver in order to check his driver’s license and the registration of the automobile are unreasonable.

      • The Dope of South Arlington

        How does this device seize, stop, or detain the driver?

      • Arlington, Northside

        They will fulfill the reasonable suspicion part showing that the driven car was stolen or owned by the suspect.

        • The Pope of South Arlington

          So it’s like the lottery, the Cop can violate my Fourth Amendment rights as long as he comes out a winner?

          Nardone v. United States, 308 U.S. 338 (1939), the Court ruled that tips resulting from illegally obtained evidence are also inadmissible in trials as fruit of the poisonous tree. The rule serves primarily to deter police officers from willfully violating a suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights.

      • R.Griffon

        You’re making crazy leaps in logic. You seem to keep making the mistake of thinking that a visual inspection of your vehicle on a public roadway qualifies as a search under the 4th Amendment. It does not. Looking at your tags (incl. date of registration expiration), state inspection sticker, maybe even a county resident sticker in the case of parking on restricted streets, does not constitute a search.

        Are your 4th Amendment rights violated every time a policeman looks at you while you’re walking down the street? You probably think that is too. And it’s an even GREATER violation (logically) as police have the right, no … make that the DUTY to ensure that vehicles traveling on pubic roads are properly licensed and registered. There are no such requirements for walking down the street. Maybe you think police should be required to stare at their feet when out in public so as to not violate anyone’s 4th Amendment rights.

        Nobody’s being detained, and no vehicles are being searched. IF and when a plate rings hot (as stolen, or for an outstanding warrant), then that’s more than enough to establish probable cause. If you got pulled over while obeying the law in every way, and your plates were not listed as red flag in this system, THEN (and ONLY then) you would have a gripe. Until then you’re just making noise.

        • The Pope of South Arlington

          Cops used to NEED a reason to pull you over, remember that? The simple fact that that has changed should be all the logic one needs to conclude there’s malfeasance. I dont care what ideological fly-paper you find yourself stuck to, this should disturb you.

          • CanCommonSensePrevail?

            FYI, cops still need a reason to stop you. Specifically, in order to stop a vehicle, a police officer must have a Reasonable Articulate Suspicion (not probable cause) that there is a crime or traffic violation afoot. This has not changed and I would like to hear about any cases in Arlington where vehicles have been stopped without said suspicion.

          • charlie

            i’ve been on juries. cops explained to use a thing called the felon-nod — which is what someone who is guilty of something does to a police officer. that is reasonable cause. bingo. prove otherwise. badges rule.

      • CanCommonSensePrevail?

        You are correct. So where does the “stopping an automobile and detaining the driver” come into play when the cameras are merely reading your license plate and running it thorough a database? The cameras are only doing what an officer could and does already do. Again, just much faster and more efficiently.

        • The Pope of South Arlington

          If I dont have to ID myself to a Cop unless Ive been lawfully arrested or detained, why should the Cop be allowed to ID me in my car when I’ve done nothing to warrant probable cause?

          • MrStevens

            While the Commonwealth doesn’t have any stop and identify laws — Arlington does.

            http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/CountyBoard/CountyCode/Ch17_MiscellaneousOffensesAndProvisions.pdf

            Although it appears you may only have to provide name and address, not a phyiscal ID. I’m not a lawyer.

            Section 13(c) – under Loitering:

            “It shall be unlawful for any person at a public place or place open to the public to refuse to identify himself by name and address at the request of a uniformed police officer or of a properly identified police officer not in uniform, if the surrounding circumstances are such as to indicate to a reasonable man that the public safety requires such identification.”

          • Sam

            By driving on the public roadways of the Commonwealth of Virginia, you must be a licensed driver with a registered vehicle. They issue a license plate to you to identify you as the registered owner of the vehicle. At any time, for any reason, they can query their registration records of who is licensed to use the roadways.

            It is not your right to drive on a public street. By registering your vehicle with the state in order to exercise the privilege of using the roadways, you are explicitly allowing the state to tag your vehicle with a unique identifier for them to keep track of it while on the public street. It’s not a search or seizure and thus, not protected under the 4th Amendment.

          • charlie

            well if you want the police to question you to make sure you aren’t guilty, just hope that they don’t take you to the big house to do it.
            i’m all for civil liberties but i’m also not stoopid. (not that you are).

  • dcbrewer

    Ride a bike and you won’t have to worry about anyone running your plates!

    • MrStevens

      Until they employ facial recognition cameras.

      • V Dizzle

        Have had those in VA Beach for nine years.

    • Rover

      A microchip in your forehead is forthcoming.

  • Darwin

    Here’s what those of you who don’t have a problem with this in our area have to look forward to:
    NYC’s entire Financial district is covered by cameras that are monitored at all times:
    http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/lower-manhattan-security-initiative
    “If you circle a ‘sensitive’ location several times in your car, a camera inside a police command center will signal cops or security officers to check you out,” News Day reported. “If you leave a package for more than a prescribed time, say, 90 seconds, another camera will sound an alarm”

    Land of the Free?

    • AllenB

      Given the actions you describe, this doesn’t bother me in the least.

    • Wolf_N_Sheep

      If you circle several times, then the police should question you. If you are just lost or looking for parking you can explain yourself and go about your day. As for the package, the reportage from NewsDay is pretty bad when it uses such concrete measurements as “say, 90 seconds.” Even if it were the case, what is the problem? If I circled my HOUSE several times and was detained, THAT would be a problem. If I left a package on MY porch for 2 minutes and was questioned, THAT would be a problem. It is not a problem in public and near potential terrorist targets. Remember your complaints the next time something explodes and you blame someone for not doing enough to prevent it. Calm down.

      • So, as long as I am able to prove myself innocent to the satisfaction of the proper authorities after having tripped some arbitrary standards of behavior about which I was totally unaware, I get to remain free?

        What a system!

        • Wolf_N_Sheep

          There is nothing arbitrary about those two situations. Arbitrary would be if a police officer decided he didn’t like the color of your shirt, or that you have one shoe-lace undone. Terrorists and criminals look at their targets ahead of time, hence circling is suspicious. Abandoned packages have been known to explode or cause harm, hence they are regarded with suspicion. If an unknown person continually circled your house, I imagine you would go ask what they were up to. Again, the next time something explodes please remember this complaint before you blame someone else for not preventing it. Calm down.

          • You’re right, circling a location “several times” isn’t arbitrary at all. After all, “several” is specifically defined as “more than two but not many,” and everyone knows you should never circle anything more than two but not many times or you’re just asking to be stopped by the police and forced to submit to questioning under the threat of detention.

            And my talking to someone about circling my property is the same thing, of course. No, I don’t have a badge, the power of arrest, nor the ability to make someone’s life a living hell on the totally non-arbitrary judgment that someone did something “several times” rather than only two, and the best I can do is maybe shake a set of pruning shears in a menacing manner, but why get all caught up in distracting details when there are terrorists afoot?

            You’ve convinced me. The government has never lied or abused its power so why not give it more? Like you, I am now so panic-stricken over a possible terror attack that I can only hope they put license-plate readers on all the cop cars. And busses. And maybe Zip cars and bicycles and Vespas and… Wait, there’s someone walking by my building. Okay, buddy, that’s one time…

          • Wolf_N_Sheep

            First of all, by stating that I am right off the bat when you obviously don’t agree, you have telegraphed your intent to use sarcasm instead of reasoned, measured argument. You neglect to rebut any point I tried to make in lieu of ad hoc and ad hominem attacks. The issue is not the meaning of the word several. The issue, as presented, was circling “sensitive” sites several times. Being suspicious of someone circling a sensitive site is not arbitrary – you never address that issue. Next – you are the only one keying in on the word “terrorists.” I used it in conjunction with “criminals.” It was not a stand-alone concern. I can only guess you just want to rail against how society reacts to the real or perceived threat of terrorism. Again, not relevant to the argument I was making. I never claimed the government doesn’t lie. You have falsely accused me of taking a position I did not espouse. I endorse vigilance towards our civil liberties, but not at the expense of common sense application of the law. As for me being “panic-stricken”, there is no way for you to make that claim based upon my written argument here. I did not use any indicators of panic such as hyperbole, false accusation, connecting unrelated phenomena, or engage in name-calling. You, however, did all of those things. Please remain vigilant in the protection of our liberties from the police and government but not at the expense of all reasonable protections. That being said, the next time you have to call the police to help you, be sure to tell them up front how much you distrust them. I guarantee that they will still assist you (in Arlington, anyway).

          • If you’re going to spend the better part of a comment thread telling people with whom you disagree to “calm down,” suggest they are whining, and make liberal use of the caps key throughout, you really should be prepared for a little push back and some gentle sarcasm without suddenly going all Miss-Manners-on-crack over it.

            As for the rest, I’d just suggest you re-read your own posts and mine. There’s nothing I can elaborate on that would be productive as far as I can see.

  • The information these cameras collect are public records, not invading privacy at all, they automatically scan and search by plate numbers while officers are driving (with both hands on the wheel) to see if any vehicles in your community belong to individuals with wants and warrants, first they ID the vehicle,run it across the driver info and by running this the MDT or police car computer known as a mobile data terminal will notify or alert the officer to a postive hit from a car suggesting the vehicle should be looked at further or may straight up tell an officer if the tags are expired or if theres outstanding tickets but it also tells an officer if the driver or registered owner is friend or foe and if that technology exist to make officers safer on the street then its a good tool to use and law abiding citizens as well as those who by principles atleast support the police should be ok with this device. This device was first used in Los Angeles, LAPD in a first month trial had huge success, it arrested those who have committed crimes and had warrants and stopped crimes before they occured becuase officers were alerted to cars by criminal files and were able to stop burglars and robbers in their cars before they could do more harm. Officers knew someone on the road was a threat to them and citizens before officers even could see the car for themselves, it provided a great heads up system. Throughout history new police tools come and go although mainly stay, at first the community and officers arent too sure about them and within months maybe even weeks the officers using these new tools are very happy to have them and they can display to the community their success and usage by simply holding public demonstrations, maybe ACPD should have an open house showcasing ntheir department and its resources, they can demo new tools and take questions the public may have. Open Houses at police stations is another tool passed down by LAPD, they do it frequently throughout their city and have been doing it many years. These plate scanners are another tool, its time saving and human saving, the info gathered by these scanners can be done by hand by the officers. It is very civil rights friendly and is a weapon to combat crime and is not so friendly to the “bad guys”. It alerts officers to the criminals not the law abiding taxpayers.

    • MrStevens

      Is this you:

      http://www.youtube.com/user/novapj

      — Never-mind, just answered my own question, I see the link under your name.

      I’m surprised you feel that way considering the amount that you are harassed by the police (based on your videos.)

      • in the vast majority of my encounters with Arlington police i’m NOT harrased at all, most of my time with ACPD has been pleasant and I enjoy the force and getting to film them, mainly because after a brief period of problems i’ve had a couple years of officers understanding my rights and understanding me personally and taking the time to know my name and what i’m really about. I’ve done 6 ride alongs with ACPD and have gotten to know a number of officers very well, i like the mix of personalities that make up ACPD. as far as my youtube page goes, there have been times on video and on youtube comments where i had to be extremely critical of officers and of scenarios and be more outspoken then usual. I still disagree with officers on some incidents and i’ve spent alot of time trying to put myself in their shoes, however as time passed i have understood other incidents better. i feel comfortable around ACPD, there was a time i didnt and in america you should be able to trust your local police force. theres a particular motor unit and a REACT officer who i trust alot alot and feel good talking to who have eased tensions. i still am cautious when i film police activity but i think its important to be safe in all forms while doing such photography. sometimes i catch myself smiling at cops while photographing them because it amazes me the shift in feelings towards them. that gap of time where maybe both myself and ACPD were confused and too cautious of eachother. i’ve always loved police work, its been there since elementary school, and even during a bad encounter i always know that the police are good and usually looking out for you and are needed in this society. police is a good concept just like civil liberties,when they were at war with eachother and i was personally effected i had to step up and do what i could to help calm that conflict down, camera’s dont harm police officers, bad guys do and sometimes police officers hurt other police officers, thats really not my feeling or attitude when filming ACPD, i’m not out for a rodney king moment, i simply have stumpled upon police activity and i’ve chosen to take the responsibility of documenting it and making a visual record of it, if it harms an officer it still doesnt fall on me, if a bad guy harms an officer then as someone who volunteers as a photographer and donated to the police memorial fund i’m all about creating that visual record to lock the bastard up and it seems that assaults on officers are getting more common in arlington, help protect officers when they are doing their job right, hold them accountable when they are doing their job wrong. at the end of the day their actions are on them. i think they understand that. a camera shouldnt scare them but maybe remind them that we are in a time of live internet updates and mobile uploads of images and videos, i’m not the only one who snapped a pic or takes a vid of police encounters. photography is all around us and photography/videography is used by police all the time. but i’m that someone who has spent the time getting a grasp and consensus of what ACPD is all about and they arent corrupt, they can definitely be a little more community oriented and pro active, they need more 2man patrol cars, but overall ACPD is a small jursidiction with a big city like population and traffic for its small size and as arlington grows so does the police dept. i do have have my share of complaints and questions, but i definitely can not say or have the evidence to suggest that ACPD is anything but a normal police force and has alot of great officers and overall is good people doing good things.

  • Lena

    I can’t say whether the police will use the scanner for bad things or not, but I can relate a positive story. My cousin’s car was stolen and she got it back because the Arlington Police flagged it as stolen with a tag scanner. The 16 year old who was driving had pot with him in the car and claimed that he borrowed the car from a friend and didn’t know it was stolen.

  • MoMoney

    One stolen vehicle recovered by this system pays for itself. This saving insurance companies million of dollars in stolen vehicle payouts to policy holders. This savings is then passed on to us.

    These cameras (from what I understand) aren’t notifying officers of suspended licenses, expired tags, or tax issues here in Arlington. It’s notifying them of stolen vehicles and wanted people.

    So it’s gonna help my streets be safer, recover my stolen car more quickly, and put more money in my pocket.

    What’s the problem?

    • Westover

      It will take much more than just one recovered vehicle to cover the costs, but one violent crimminal taken off the streets and we get our moneys’ worth.

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