Long Island town has scanned 50 million license plates

A single town on Long Island has announced that it has scanned license plates 50 million times since a plate reading system was installed just over three years ago.

Freeport officials claim that the scanning system has led to the arrests of people wanted for murder, burglaries, and drug offenses.

"We’ve arrested well over 100 wanted individuals," Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy said.

The system is part of Freeport’s “Operation Safe Streets” program, implemented about three years ago.

The town installed multiple plate readers at entrances to Freeport roads. Officials say the equipment can cross-reference up to 20,000 plate numbers per minute, accessing state and federal law enforcement databases and motor vehicle records.

"The information comes in simultaneously to our strategic operations center, to the police desk, and to every police patrol vehicle out on streets," Village Police Chief Miguel Bermudez says.

Police say that crime in the Village has decreased by fifty-four percent since the program’s inception.

A 2012 study by the Police Executive Research Forum, a research and policy group, found that about seven in 10 law enforcement agencies nationwide have at least some access to the technology. Some departments mount scanners in patrol cars that capture data as police officers drive around town. Others buy access to databases maintained by private companies that mount plate scanning cameras on tow trucks.

Civil liberties advocates have raised some privacy concerns about how long the information is stored and who has access to it. Freeport is the second largest village in New York State.

Resident Abraham Smith says, "I feel like it is an invasion of privacy because if the person is not wanted or warranted or doing something illegal, you shouldn’t be able to do that."

With the Associated Press.