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‘It’s nothing new,’ DPD says license plate readers have been in use for over a decade now

A number of people in the Dayton area feel uneasy about the updated license plate readers in each of the police cruisers, particularly people who feel they tend to be profiled.

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“I know the police department and our sheriff’s’ department do make us feel safe,” Ohio resident Ryan Jackson said.

Although he does feel that the police department should go above and beyond to assure the community that they are using the automated readers in an ethical way.

“It’s going to be tough because a lot of people have their minds made up on how police do things,” Jackson said.

Major Paul Saunders with Dayton Police Department (DPD) wants the public to understand that automated license plate readers have been in use by the department for 12 years now.

“It’s nothing new, it’s something that police officers across the nation already do, run license plates,” Saunders said. “That’s all it does, run a plate to see if that plate is involved in a crime.”

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The update is a software installation rather than a hardware installation which means the readers are integrated into the cruisers’ camera system that DPD already has in every one of their cars, Saunders said.

The readers tap into alerts from the National Criminal Database (NCIC), where all stolen vehicles are entered. Saunders said the department is using this software to focus on stolen cars, considering it is a growing problem locally.

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DPD says these readers reserve privacy because they focus officers where there is a potential crime.

“It’s like fishing with a spear versus fishing with a net,” Saunders described.