SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (WTNH)-- Does a new high-tech tool being used by police to catch criminals go too far? Civil liberties experts say it just might. Still more and more local police departments are using the video license plate scanning devices.
"It's personal, they're going into your personal business...it's not right," said Bonnie Dudley, Meriden.
"All of a sudden everything that's about you is there and that's not fair, I mean, it's like 'Facebook' for the state," said Derrick Greene, Bristol.
What Bonnie and Derrick are talking about is as a vehicle that's potentially illegally on the road gets flagged by a computer connected to a camera on the fender of a police car.
In the past several months, over 150 arrests and infractions were issued in Southington alone using the new technology.
"The cameras take a snapshot of the vehicle and the license plate and reads the number and letter sequence on each plate," said Lt. Mike Baribault, Southington Police.
Ten other communities in the central part of the state, along with many in other parts of the state, have come online. All agree that it's a very precise and effective tool.
But the information it gathers right down to the exact location of your car even if you were not stopped is being stored for five years.
And that has set off alarms at the American Civil Liberties Union.
Last year the General Assembly failed to act on a proposal to force the destruction of the data files after fourteen days. The police chief's association fought it saying that keeping the information longer could help in solving other crimes.
"The reality is that this technology can be used effectively within 14 days, most crimes are reported within that amount of time," said Atty. David McGuire, A.C.L.U. of CT.
Not everyone News 8 spoke with Tuesday seemed worried about it.
"I think if it helps keep us all safer I'm fine with it, I don't think it's creepy at all," said Victor Morganthaler, West Hartford.
Some towns are getting federal grants for these devices which we are told go for about $20,000 each.
The state of New York is also keeping the records for five years but the city of Boston just decided to destroy the data after 90 days.
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