Dayton police to put fixed license plate readers in Old North Dayton, Twin Towers, Westwood

Dayton is going to purchase and install more than three dozen fixed-site automated license plate readers in several neighborhoods that city officials say have requested the controversial devices.

Supporters of the technology say the cameras should help solve and deter crimes. Critics have questioned how much they actually improve public safety and worry they can be misused.

The Dayton City Commission recently approved a nearly $198,000 agreement with Flock Safety to install, operate and maintain 37 stationary cameras in the Westwood, Twin Towers and McCook Field and Old North Dayton neighborhoods.

“These would be the first neighborhoods to deploy the license plate readers,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

It is a two-year service agreement with Flock. The Georgia-based company said the cameras are designed to capture images of the rear license plates of passing traffic.

The network of cameras issue alerts when license plates are scanned that are connected to stolen vehicles or other crimes, police said.

Photos are uploaded into a database that police can search to look for vehicles based on their makes, models, colors, license plates and other attributes.

Police said they will work with the neighborhoods that requested the cameras to determine the best places to deploy them.

Residents and community members in Old North Dayton had a wide range of opinions about automated license plate readers, and certainly some people were worried about their impact on privacy and other potential problems, said Matt Tepper, president of the Old North Dayton Neighborhood Association.

But Tepper said the neighborhood association ended up unanimously voting in favor of bringing the technology to the area.

Tepper said community members apparently felt comfortable moving forward because they believe the city commission can and will provide important accountability and oversight to ensure they are not being used improperly.

Supporters said this is just another tool to help law enforcement identify stolen cars, getaway vehicles and potential criminal suspects.

But opponents say they have not seen convincing evidence that the cameras work as police and the product-makers advertise. They also say they fear there are not appropriate safeguards in place to protect the large amounts of data they collect.

The Dayton Police Department earlier this year activated license plate readers in all of its police cruisers.

Before that happened, some community members accused the police department of not following its own policies and using flawed or deceptive data to justify deployment of the technology.

About the Author