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Continued: Study: When you're at the wheel, a growing network of police cameras are on your tail

  • Article by: ANNE FLAHERTY , Associated Press
  • Last update: January 24, 2014 - 8:51 PM

The ACLU study, based on 26,000 pages of responses from 293 police departments and state agencies across the country, found that license plate scanners produced a small fraction of "hits," or alerts to police that a suspicious vehicle had been found.

In Maryland, for example, the state reported reading about 29 million plates between January and May of last year. Of that number, about 60,000 — or roughly 1 in every 500 license plates — were suspicious. The main offenses: a suspended or revoked registration, or a violation of the state's emissions inspection program, altogether accounting for 97 percent of alerts.

Even so, Eisenberg, the assistant U.S. attorney, said the program has helped authorities track 132 wanted suspects and can make a critical difference in keeping an area safe.

Also, he said, Maryland has rules in place restricting access. Most records are retained for one year, and the state's privacy policies are reviewed by an independent board, Eisenberg noted.

At least in Maryland, "there are checks, and there are balances," he said.

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