License Plate Scanner Debate Makes Its Way To City Council - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

License Plate Scanner Debate Makes Its Way To City Council

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – An ordinance proposal that would limit the number of days Lansing police can hold onto data collected from automatic license plate readers was rejected on Tuesday by city council, but officials say parts of the ordinance could be applied to private companies in the area who may use the scanners.

Charles Hoffmeyer proposed the ordinance during the committee on public safety meeting, saying LPD's use of scanners encroach on the privacy rights of citizens because of the data it collects, and how long it holds onto the information. "They scan the license plate of [vehicles they pass], and they record the date, time and location of that vehicle," says Hoffmeyer. "Your location data and where your vehicle is at any given time throughout the last year tells a lot about where you would go, doctors you seem and other things that go [on] in the city that you might not want people to know about."

Interim Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski says he understands citizens' concerns, but believes the automatic readers will help police do a better job of fighting crime. He says the technology can help police quickly identify stolen cars or suspect vehicles.

Right now, police do not have standardized policies in place for the use of the readers or the retention of the data. However, Yankowski says police will not use them in their everyday routines until they have policies in place. He expects to have those standards set by early October, and police will be trained on the new technology in late September.

Currently, LPD has three automatic license plate readers in test-mode use.

Lansing City Councilwoman Jody Washington says she passed on accepting Hoffmeyer's proposal because she has full confidence in Interim Chief Yankowski to develop a fair and ethical set of standards that will respect the privacy of individuals. Yankowski has agreed to present a draft of the policies and procedures to city council before approving them.

However, Washington says the council will revisit considering parts of the ordinance if they find private companies such as towing and repossession businesses are using the scanners within city limits.

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with WLNS-TV. Like her on Facebook, Follow her on Twitter or email her at

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