Dayton police consider license plate readers; city seeks residents’ input

Flock Safety Territory Manager Rick Lombardo holds an automated license plate reader at a recent community meeting. The Dayton Police Department says it is considering deploying the devices in neighborhoods that want them. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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Flock Safety Territory Manager Rick Lombardo holds an automated license plate reader at a recent community meeting. The Dayton Police Department says it is considering deploying the devices in neighborhoods that want them. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

City wants residents’ comments over the next two weeks; controversial camera systems trigger discussions on safety, privacy

The Dayton Police Department is considering deploying controversial license plate reader technology, and the city is accepting public comment and feedback about the devices.

The city commission will hold a public hearing about the technology at 6 p.m. July 20, but residents can and are encouraged to submit comments up until July 13, or seven days before the hearing.

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Dan Mamula, the community engagement officer with the Dayton police's West Patrol Operations Division, listens as Terri Sims talks about some of her neighborhood's public safety concerns. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Dan Mamula, the community engagement officer with the Dayton police's West Patrol Operations Division, listens as Terri Sims talks about some of her neighborhood's public safety concerns. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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Dan Mamula, the community engagement officer with the Dayton police's West Patrol Operations Division, listens as Terri Sims talks about some of her neighborhood's public safety concerns. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Comments can be emailed to regina.blackshear@daytonohio.gov or sent by mail to the Clerk of Commission / Dayton City Commission at 101 W. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402.

Automatic license plate readers are meant to help officers more easily identify vehicles and license plates connected to criminal activity, police said.

The devices automatically scan license plates and the plate numbers are compared to information in law enforcement databases, police said.

Police then receive alerts about potential stolen vehicles, active warrants for the registered vehicle owners and other offenses.

But critics say the plate readers are surveillance tools that gather a lot of information and they can be invasive because they can track people’s movements.

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Dayton police officer Dan Mamula, the West Patrol Operations Division community engagement officer, left, and Rick Lombardo, of Flock Safety, at a recent community meeting. Mamula and Lombardo answered questions about Flock's automated license plate readers. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Dayton police officer Dan Mamula, the West Patrol Operations Division community engagement officer, left, and Rick Lombardo, of Flock Safety, at a recent community meeting. Mamula and Lombardo answered questions about Flock's automated license plate readers. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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Dayton police officer Dan Mamula, the West Patrol Operations Division community engagement officer, left, and Rick Lombardo, of Flock Safety, at a recent community meeting. Mamula and Lombardo answered questions about Flock's automated license plate readers. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Some community members have raised concerns that plate readers could infringe on people’s privacy and questioned the technology’s cost and its effectiveness and potential negative effect, such as increased interactions between police and residents.

Officials with Flock Safety, a provider of license plater reader cameras, said that as of three weeks ago, the company was working with 18 customers in Montgomery County. They include police departments as well as some private customers, such as homeowners associations. The cities of Beavercreek, Centerville, Kettering and Springboro are among those that have contracted with the company.

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