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Area police department asking for more license-plate reading cameras

DAYTON — People in some communities are asking for more license-plate reading cameras.

There are 37 cameras up and running across Dayton, and now the police department is asking for 35 more.

“These cameras only go off when a car goes by and they only hit for a reason,” said Leslie Sheward, the president of the Twin Towers Neighborhood Association.

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There is an automated license plate reading camera on her street.

Sheward said her neighborhood has been hard hit by the plague of car thefts.

The cameras help detectives track a vehicle after an owner reports it stolen. Many of her neighbors have been saved a lot of stress and headaches by having vehicles returned in 36-48 hours.

“This is an opportunity to recover them more quickly than the children who are doing the crime can do damage to the vehicles,” Sheward said.

The Twin Towers neighborhood was the site of the city’s first pilot program with the cameras.

Sheward said they hated the gap between when that pilot program ended and when city commissioners approved the permanent installation of 37 cameras in June of 2022.

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A number of people then expressed concerns about potential racial profiling or privacy invasions with the cameras.

“They’re not being used to profile people, they are not being used to repossess people’s vehicles,” she said.

Dayton police asked the city commission to approve buying 35 more cameras, telling commissioners that multiple neighborhood groups have identified safety concerns and asked police to deploy the technology.

Investigators say in addition to helping track stolen cars, the cameras are a big help in identifying cars wanted for suspected involvement in drug operations, as well as a big help during both Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts for endangered children and senior citizens.

“Any technology can be misused. Is it being misused in the city of Dayton? Absolutely Not,” Sheward said.

The license plate reading cameras are not cheap, but police do view them as a so-called force multiplier. It would cost an estimated $800,000 for 35 more cameras.

One city commissioner asked for the initial proposal to be delayed from last week’s voting calendar. It is expected it will be back on a commission agenda before the end of the year.

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