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PROVIDENCE, R.I (WPRI) — Providence police are making good on a promise to give city councilors more data about automated license plate reader cameras.
The cameras take a photo of every car that drives by them, not just vehicles suspected in criminal investigations.
Photographed license plate numbers are available in a searchable database, but plates can also be put on a so-called “hot list” to notify police when a license plate reader has a hit.
In Thursday night’s City Council meeting, the council received two monthly reports, showing audits of the cameras. The audits are done to make sure each search has a valid reason.
In April, Target 12 asked the council for copies of all the monthly reports, which would have been available from the police department’s own policy to provide them to councilors.
At that time, Target 12 learned only one report had been submitted, covering Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, and the letter was just four sentences long.
Council President Rachel Miller called the report “very short and a little opaque,”
In the March report, Providence Police Commander Kevin Lanni wrote that police investigated or assisted in five cases from March 1 to March 30.
“A total of 6 plates or partial plates were searched. The system generated 290 hits on the searches,” Lanni wrote.
In the report for the following month, Lanni wrote the department investigated or assisted in 79 cases from March 31 to April 29.
Lanni’s letter showed the cameras yielded a significant number of hits in that time period. He explained out of 464 plates or partial plates searched, the system generated 240 hits in that time period.
The newest four-sentence letters from Lanni to Miller — who previously told Target 12 she asked police to start providing the monthly reports — did not provide further information, like arrests made as a result of the license plate hits.
Miller was unavailable for comment to discuss the newly received reports on Thursday.
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