Denver police get plates scanner

Denver -- Police in South Denver will soon be using cameras to track down stolen cars and criminals.

From the beginning of next year, cameras will be fitted to the roofs of police vehicles which will be able to read the number plates of passing vehicles.

Highway patrol officer Susan Jones routinely checks number plates whilst on patrol -- but only when she is stationary. She said the new number plate scanner will make her job much easier.

"The cameras are tiny and virtually can't be seen but they can take images of number plates on vehicles travelling in any direction" Jones said.

The Denver Rights Group said the new technology goes too far and violates a driver's right to privacy, and the group plans to fight it.

"We think it's really an unfortunate direction," Aaron Davis, head of the Denver Rignts Group. "Here, what the police are talking about is a camera that's always on as police are traveling around, monitoring people's movements and associations and storing that in a database. We think that's a big problem."

Police argued their cruisers are already equipped with cameras, and the bottom line is the plate scanners make South Portland a better police department.

"We're in the business of enforcing laws, catching criminals, if you will, recovering stolen property. This is technology that will assist us to doing that," Googins said.

In the past year, the Denver Rights Group fought successfully to prevent cities and towns from using traffic surveillance cameras to catch speeders or people running red lights. The group also claimed that those systems violated a driver's right to privacy.

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