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Published September 10, 2012, 05:58 PM

New technology keeps track of license plates for police

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - New technology is allowing police to run checks on license plates of nearly every car they come in contact with.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - New technology is allowing police to run checks on license plates of nearly every car they come in contact with.

Now, the city of Fargo is looking at, not only adding that technology to patrol cars, but also to parking enforcement.

Currently parking enforcement in Fargo uses a hand held camera to log license plates for how long people are parking.

The new system would bring that to a whole new level.

These cameras mounted on the front and the side of this Cass County Sheriff's car have the ability to run the numbers of every license plate they come across. It connects to a national database through a laptop in the car. Right now this is the only car with the cameras. The department is looking at how it works before it gets more.

Chris Fix, Cass County Deputy: “I've actually had a number of hits on the system. The hit that we've had have been stolen vehicle hits that I've seen.”

The department is still working on a policy of how to handle the data it collects.

Fix: “There's a lot of things we can do with the data once it's collected not just at the time the officer is running it in the car.”

Parking enforcement in Fargo could soon be using the same technology to issue tickets.

Mike Williams, Fargo City Commissioner: “There are already cameras on the hand helds for our parking enforcement officers now.”

But now those snapshots of parking get tossed right away unless there is a ticket. Williams thinks that would remain the same with the new cameras even if the Fargo police were using the same technology on their squad cars.

Carol Archbold, NDSU Criminal Justice: “Unfortunately our criminal justice system needs to catch up with the technologies.”

Carol Archibold says that criminal justice research is just beginning to look at the license plate issues.

Archibold: “There are people who feel that this technology is useful, a good police tool and that people shouldn't be concerned if they have nothing to worry about. The other way to look at this is that some people view it as an invasion of privacy.”

And how the data collected by these cameras is used and stored still needs to be worked out.

Now West Fargo has been using the cameras for two years and stores the data for 60 days and under the public information laws can be accessed by request.

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