Peoria ACLU raises privacy concerns over license plate recognition cameras

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 10:13 PM CST
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Privacy concerns are being raised by a civil liberties group over new license plate recognition cameras, which are to be installed in Peoria.

Peoria’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is questioning the city and police department regarding new ‘automatic license plate recognition’ cameras.

Back in November, the city council unanimously approved a two year agreement for 16 of those cameras costing $109,000, money the department already had.

“It doesn’t capture a full recording, but it will capture motion. That’s even on items without license plates so an individual walks by, it will capture a few snapshots of that individual,” said Jack Nieukirk, technology administrator for PPD, at the November meeting.

2nd District Councilman Chuck Grayeb said his vote was with the idea of helping combat crime in the city.

“Making certain people have the freedom to go about their neighborhoods unmolested and not have to worry about gun play. And worry about their cars stolen or their homes broken into,” said Grayeb.

Although Director of Communications and Public Policy of ACLU Illinois Ed Yohnka wants to know who will be regulating these cameras and the data that come from them.

Yohnka asked, “If you’re going to have a privacy policy, will you report to the public when A, that policy is violated and B, what happened to that person that violated it?”

Yohnka believes the cameras target high crime areas and will build distrust among community members and police.

He asked, “Is that simply code for saying, we’re going to put them in black in brown communities?”

Councilman Grayeb says he understands all of the concerns presented, and they will be reviewed.

“I think there’s some housekeeping items that need to be taken care of and they will be through our legal department,” said Grayeb.

Bloomington is also considering these cameras.

Peoria Police did not have anyone available to comment about the cameras and their use.

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