An explosive new report by the American Civil Liberties Union accuses eight local police agencies of violating state law by sharing sensitive information gleaned from license plate readers mounted on police cruisers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE.
The ACLU claims ICE uses the massive cache of information to track daily movements of Connecticut motorists as part of a huge surveillance program.
It was uncovered after a 2018 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in California.
“We knew for a long while that there is a real privacy issue regarding license plate readers,” said ACLU of Connecticut executive director David McGuire. “So, there’s a real pressing need right now for the legislature to act and prevent this from happening going forward,” he said.
The program doesn’t sit well with immigrant rights advocate Jesus Morales Sanchez.
“People start getting paranoid and people start being concerned about being able to go and pick up their kids from school,” Morales Sanchez told us. He said he also believes the practice should concern all citizens regardless of immigration status because of the erosion of privacy.
News 8 talked to three local departments on the list. Each flatly denied sharing info with ICE.
Wethersfield’s chief said, in part, “This is the first I’ve ever heard of ICE having access to our LPR data. As far as I know, we were sharing our data with other law enforcement agencies in Connecticut.”
Enfield’s top officer told us, “We are not affirmatively supporting or assisting ICE in this regard. We are certainly not taking info and forwarding it to ICE. Representations to the contrary are inaccurate.”
A spokesman from Southern Connecticut State said, “The university has never directly shared information with ICE. In an abundance of caution, our university police department has deactivated the sharing component of the database.”
“I feel like it’s a betrayal,” said SCSU freshman Elijah Henry. “I feel like they’re going against us a little bit, like, they’re doing it behind our backs.”