Longboat Key, Florida -- Officers are using cameras that read your license plate and then tip off police if the owner has committed a crime.
They're being used on Longboat Key but some argue the crime-fighting tool is an invasion of privacy. But police say the cameras are being used to keep you safe.
Next time you drive onto Longboat Key keep this in mind: You’re being watched. Cameras on both ends of the key are reading your license plate as you come on and off the key.
“If there’s a crime attached to the registered owner expired tag, warrant, a sexual predator or missing or endangered person we get alerted,” says Chief Pete Cumming, of the Longboat Key Police Department.
Cumming says in most cases a Longboat Key police officer will pull over the driver
Cumming says, “Anything that makes the island safer is my responsibility.”
The cameras spotted a stolen car and police arrested 4 people inside. Police arrested the driver of another car soon after a homeowner reported his kayak stolen. The cameras took a photo of the pickup truck with the kayaks inside. The driver of another vehicle was linked to more than a dozen other crimes.
Cumming says, “When I can analyze 1,300 cars an hour without using human resources I think that’s most efficient way.”
But is it an invasion of privacy?
Eric Spells supports use of the cameras, and says, “As long as it keeps me safe I’m okay with that I have kids like to go to the beach.”
“I don’t think it’s a violation of personal rights we need more safety,” adds Kim Ferdinance, mother of twin girls.
Cumming says, “These are public streets there’s not expectation of privacy.”
Since the cameras were installed two years ago police have stopped 13 suspected vehicles, made 18 arrests and helped other municipalities solve crimes.
Cumming says the cameras help keep the island safe. He says, “The bad guys know they’re here and they don’t come on to the island. They know if they do we will know they’re here.”
Chief Pete Cumming says the Automated License Plate Recognition System alerts his department about a 100 cars a day.
The cameras are used by some agencies in patrol vehicles.