What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

City reduces license plate data retention to 90 days

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: October 31, 2012 - 5:19 PM

Minneapolis' database of license plate tracking information just got a whole lot smaller.

A police department spokesman, Sgt. William Palmer, said this August that the department stores location data on cars spotted by license plate readers for one year -- a long time compared to other departments in the area.

But Palmer said Wednesday that the department reduced that retention time to 90 days about a month ago. That's puts them a bit closer to St. Paul, which keeps it for 14 days, and the State Patrol, which keeps it for 48 hours.

Keeping the data for a year meant that Minneapolis had amassed the state's largest database of license plate data -- the city scanned 4.9 million plates between January and August. Police said this was partly to help with investigations, but also because there was no state guidance on how long to keep it.

And it's public data, so the department has had to comply with dozens of requests for tracking information (see photo above).

Palmer said the change was made via an administrative announcement.

The new retention time comes as an independent working group at the state level is discussing what state law should say regarding this issue.

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