Imagine our shock when a Grand Rapids police officer entered Community Automotive Repair last month, specifically to inform us a stolen car was in our lot. Now, consider our response when we were informed the vehicle in question was from our own low-cost rental fleet. I (Calvin) can’t vouch what my colleagues might have been thinking, but almost immediately my mind shifted to “How would you know?”
To answer that question, we take a closer look at new technology being used in our own backyard – the license plate reader. Some of GRPD’s vehicles are equipped with this device, which gives them very quick analysis of any unpaid parking tickets, violations, or pending warrants associated with each specific vehicle’s license plate. After only being in place a short time, this recent addition to the police force has helped recover nearly $50,000 and over a half-dozen stolen vehicles. We’re sure those numbers are even greater today, as there’s been a steady incline in results.
However convenient these resources may be for the police and City of Grand Rapids, they’re of course not met without controversy, locally and across the country. An article found on WoodTV8 online suggests the most recent party to object is the ACLU, but it’s fair to say they’re not acting alone.
How do you feel about this issue? Is this somehow an invasion of privacy, or do you consider this process necessary for our community?
For those of you wondering, the officer was responding to a legitimate incident from 2012, only the record had not been updated on their end. We unfortunately did have a young man and his friends take one of our cars for a morning joyride and leave it abandoned, only the plate on that vehicle was then transferred to a different one altogether. When that change was made, the Secretary of State files didn’t make it back to the Grand Rapids Police Department. Needless to say, it’s all handled now and there’s no additional room for concern.
Seems these modern forms of discovery are slowly becoming more common place, but please do let us know where all of this information lands for you. Do you stand opposed, or are you in support of this method being used to retrieve data? In several ways, this is merely an updated process that’s been made more visible in light of the plate readers themselves, which are easily detectable from their mounted position on the police cars. (pictured above, compliments of MLive) But in other ways, this latest development has some people feeling uneasy. Are you one of them?