Canton OKs leasing pole-mounted license plate readers

A split Canton City Council voted 4-2 to approve a police proposal to install fixed-location license plate readers along busy roads to look out for suspicious vehicles.

Council members Sandy McGrew and Bill Grant voted against the measure, which calls for the devices to be leased from Georgia Power and mounted on power poles. The Police Department already has four readers in patrol vehicles, Police Chief Mark J. Mitchell said.

Regarding privacy concerns, Mitchell said in a briefing paper and at a City Council work session that data collected by the readers would be stored for three years at a third-party vendor and be used only for felony crimes. Possible mounting locations include Marietta Highway, Riverstone Parkway, Cumming Highway and Hickory Flat Highway, all at I-575.

Leasing three cameras, each capable of reading up to 900 plates per minute, would cost $28,260 a year. City Manager Billy Peppers said that in his opinion, it would take 12 police officers, earning an annual salary of $65,000 each, to provide the same service.

Mitchell said the police chief in Brookhaven told him that during a two-week period, their fixed-location license plate readers alerted officers to 10 stolen vehicles, which were recovered; an armed robbery suspect out of Texas, who was taken into custody; and a kidnapped child out of South Carolina, who was safely located.