“The number one priority for any Mayor is to provide a safe community to it’s citizens . . . we want the criminals to know this system is in place and this technology will aid us in their capture.” Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott
September 28, 2017-Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott announced today that Hammond has implemented a series of 33, permanently mounted, license plate readers at all exits and entrances to the City. The fixed mount cameras are in addition to 2 mobile units placed into service early this summer. The cameras read the license plates of all vehicles who travel into the City and record information regarding that vehicle travel. “These cameras also will alert Hammond Police officers, in real time, when a “vehicle of interest” enters our community. “Vehicles of Interest” are those that are stolen, have a person with felony warrants attached to it or even vehicles involved with amber alerts.” according to the statement issued by the City today. In a recent, high profile case, the City even acknowledged that a suspect was caught when the license plate reader had logged his vehicle at a house in Hammond several times. Despite the fact that the address did not belong to the suspect and no other public record would have led police to that location, police were able to quickly locate and apprehend the suspect based primarily on the information which had been gathered by the license plate reader.
“The number one priority for any Mayor is to provide a safe community to it’s citizens,” stated Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. “My goal is to make sure that Hammond police officers have all the tools they need to help them accomplish this goal. I believe our embrace of technology, in setting up “Hammond’s Blue Net,” will keep Hammond on the cutting edge of law enforcement. Basically, we want the criminals to know this system is in place and this technology will aid us in their capture.”
Hammond Police Chief John Doughty stated “I want to thank Vigilant Systems, the Hammond City Council and Mayor McDermott for providing my officers with the funding we needed to set up “Hammond’s Blue Net,” another tool we can use to help us maintain the safety of our great city. It is technology like this that keeps my officers one step ahead of the criminals at all times.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed several lawsuits in California in an effort to protect citizens. In a recent case, the California Supreme Court ruled that license plate reader information was accessible via public record requests. In asking that residents be allowed to cover license plates while their cars are parked, the EFF explained “If the information is breached, accessed by unauthorized users, or sold publicly, ALPR data has the potential to put people in real danger, such as making domestic violence victims’ travel patterns available to their ex-partners. Law enforcement officials should also support this bill, since ALPR data can also reveal information about the home lives of officers or their meetings with witnesses.”
The City of Hammond will partner with Vigilan Systems. Privacy advocates are concerned about the sharing of information with Vigilant as well as the handling of information by governmental agencies. The information exchange is a two way street since Vigilant must have access to personal data to share it with police agencies. So, for instance, in Texas Vigilant offered police agencies free license plate reader technology. Privacy advocates warned that Vigilant would use the information obtained for marketing purposes to pay the costs of the equipment. The City of Hammond says it has budgeted $500,000 for the contract but does not state what the cost of the equipment is and what the cost of the service will be.
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