Senate Panel Wants to Prevent Purchases of License Plate Scanners

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BOONE COUNTY - The Missouri Senate appropriations panel wants to make it impossible for state law enforcement agencies to purchase license plate recognition systems.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, introduced the language into the budget. His chief of staff, Chris Dunn, would not speak to KOMU 8 News about the proposed prohibition. 

No state law enforcement agencies use license plate recognition systems, but locally, both the Boone County Sheriff's Department and the Columbia Police Department utilize license plate recognition software.

Columbia police Lt. John Gordon said that his agency has two license plate recognition systems on patrol vehicles. The systems continually scan license plates and alert officers of stolen vehicles or vehicles linked to crimes. 

Some privacy advocates told KOMU 8 News in August that the systems raise concerns. Jeffrey Mittman of the ACLU of Missouri said that the systems "(invite) misuse and abuse."  

But Gordon said the information is secure. He said department policies prevent misuse by keeping the information available only to specifically trained officers and only or a limited period.

"We keep the data for 90 days, and after that we purge it," Gordon said. 

The state senate recently passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee's Summit, that would limit data storage to 30 days. 

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