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Over the weekend, the Post ran a story about license plate readers in the region, and the attendant privacy concerns:
More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time, helping police pinpoint stolen cars and fleeing killers. But the program quietly has expanded beyond what anyone had imagined even a few years ago.
With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles.
Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the District, which has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation. Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well, and local agencies plan to add many more in coming months, creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District.
In D.C., there are 73 readers (at $20,000 a piece), 38 of which are stationary, while the rest are attached to vehicles. MPD Officer Tisha Ganett says the location of the cameras is confidential: “We do not disseminate operations and tactical information.”
But! If you care to look, you can probably spot them; they seem to look very similar to red light cameras, and are likely mounted in the same kinds of locations. Has anyone seen a license plate reader in the wild? Let us know where it was and we’ll start keeping track.
Photo by Jay Goodman Tamboli