On Saturday, the AP followed up on a story we first reported on last fall: The Little Rock Police Department is now employing a license plate scanner on one of its patrol cars. From David Koon's story last October:
While the goal is to help officers spot plates associated with wanted cars, the system captures every plate it sees, and the data it collects can be stored and searched at a later date. With most of that data potentially accessible to both law enforcement and anyone who makes a Freedom of Information Act request about a specific plate number, the ability to store and cross-reference data on the movements of innocent citizens has privacy advocates up in arms about similar systems nationwide...
"The date, time, LPN [license plate number] and GPS coordinates are stored each time a license plate is 'read,' " [Little Rock Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Cassandra] Davis said in an e-mail exchange about the system. "Those 'reads' can be uploaded to a server and then [we can] search records if needed."
News of the use of the scanner didn't sit well with at least on state legislator. Rep. Nate Bell, R-Mena, tweeted yesterday: "Something tells me that the City of Little Rock isn't gonna like my response to learning about this," with a link to the AP story.