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Chico Police Awaiting Approval for New License Plate Readers

By Tyler May, tmay@krcrtv.com
Published On: Feb 18 2013 08:23:28 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 18 2013 08:30:00 AM CST
CHICO, Calif. -

Chico Police are looking to get an "OK" from the city council Tues. night to buy a device that would make it easier for officers to read license plates.

Chico Police have been working on this proposal for months now and they say it won't cost the city a dime -- at least for now.

City leaders and officers are on board with the idea but some concerned citizens have said that this could be an invasion of privacy.

"I understand there are pros and cons, but to me it's getting a little personal," said John Skytte, who opposed the idea. "I think it's a good idea but then you stretched that line of black and white."

Chico Police have a different view. They said they are eagerly awaiting the green light to get the automatic license plate reader (ALPR) .

“We are being asked to accept the contribution of this community in order to provide ALPR," said Councilman Randall Stone.

Stone is one of the seven people this proposal has to go through on Tuesday night. He said this would not cost the city anything for about three years.

A private business fund raised nearly $23,000 to buy the reader.  It would sit right on top of the light bar on a Chico Police patrol car.

It can read up to 240 plates a minute and tell officers if the plate is linked to any criminal activity.

"It's called a force-multiplier because it almost acts though as we have multiple police officers," added Stone.

The device would cost the city $1,000 a year after three years, but there has been speculation that this device could be an invasion of privacy.

"That info cannot be maintained any longer than 60 days.  It's also can't be viewed by anyone outside of law enforcement with a search warrant," said Stone.

With the sudden spike of crime in Chico over the past month, Stone said it is a step in the right direction and that his fellow council members feel the same way.

"We want to give them the tools that help them and I think they'll value the ALPR," said Stone.

The meeting will be held Tues. night at the city council chambers and Stone is confident the proposal will pass.