WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) - The American Civil Liberties Union Came out with a report Wednesday, voicing concerns about automated license plate readers.
The devices automatically read plates and send the data to the area law enforcement agency. They are used all over the state including Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington.
While the report expresses concerns about privacy, the chief of the Wrightsville Beach Police Department says there are no expectations of privacy on license plates, and an officer can run them at any time. He says the devices just automate the process.
Chief Dan House says certain polices are in place at his department to make sure information is not taken advantage of. The ACLU claims that many law enforcement agencies hold onto the data they gather from the plates for years.
Chief House says unless the information is related to a crime, it disappears after 30 days. He also says they do not share information with other departments unless there is a valid reason for it.
"We don't share that information," said Chief House. "It's not going into the public and only certain people here have access to the report."
Some people on the island say they think the plate readers violate their privacy.
"I don't think it's anyone's business to know that I come here but my own," explained Devin Ludowese.
Others say it makes them feel safer.
"I know it's a bit extreme, but let's say there is a murderer, they need to be caught," explained Danielle Penk.
"It makes me feel safer," said Helen Gould. "I have children, and I like knowing they are in a safe place."
Chief House believes this and other programs have contributed to a decrease in crime.
"It's a mixture of all of those different programs that has brought crime down and made people safer on the beach," he said.
The Wilmington Police Department also uses the license plate software. WECT.com is waiting to hear back from them on how long the information is stored.
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