Activists wary of legislation to authorize Rochester police to buy license plate reading cameras


ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) — The Rochester City Council is expected to vote tonight on a more than quarter dollar terrorism prevention grant for Rochester Police. 

But not everyone is on board.  The plan includes investment in technology that some don’t believe RPD should be handed without external oversight.  

The local ACLU Chapter and Working Families Party for Rochester co-signed a letter with 13 other organizations calling on the City Council to vote against this legislation due to it giving Rochester Police License Plate Readers.  

Fearing Rochester Police will abuse this technology against ordinary people. Especially those in minority communities or undocumented immigrants who drive around the city.  

The Grant from the state division of homeland security totals $252,400 meant for purchasing numerous equipment, including cameras used as “fixed license plate readers to be used for investigation or suspect identification.  

Those with the NYCLU (New York Civil Liberties Union) and Working families party disagree it is necessary without external oversight of how the system is used and who gets access to it. Also wanting this money spent in other directions they see fit to better the city.  

“How are they going to pick and choose who is being tracked?,” Stevie Vargas with the Working Families Party said. “I think our undocumented community and refugee community retain the right to obtain licenses to drive.”  

“We don’t believe additional funding is going to increase safety,” Iman Abid of the NYCLU added. “So, I think this is an opportunity right now for us to be saying we need to see community investment in base services for the people that have been harmed by these practices.” 

If approved the funding for this technology and practices would be in place until September of 2024. The City Council is scheduled to vote on this in tonight’s council meeting at 6:30 pm.  

We reached out to Rochester Police numerous times to explain how they would use this license plate reading camera system and the way it works. But we have not heard back. 

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