Letters sent to Cranston, Pawtucket and Woonsocket expressing our alarm over the implementation and use of automated license plate reader (ALPR) camera systems by law enforcement throughout each of the three municipalities. The use of the cameras is part of a 60-day pilot program of the system that we learned about only after receiving media inquiries about the situation. Our letter argues that:

  • The cameras, contrary to the impression given by police officials, capture far more information than merely license plate numbers, and can even search for cars by their bumper stickers.
  • The inevitability of the expansion of these camera programs into more extensive and intrusive types of surveillance only compounds the seriousness of a lack of statutory safeguards surrounding their usage.
  • In the absence of legislatively established limits on the use of the cameras, the privacy rights of the public remain at the absolute discretion of the police department and a private company, which can change their privacy guidelines at any time