SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– The City of Syracuse is asking for the community’s input on newly proposed surveillance technology to aid the Syracuse Police Department in its investigations. 

Automated license plate readers would be positioned in 26 locations SPD identified across the city on either overhead traffic lights or nearby telephone polls. The technology would capture images of a vehicle’s license plate as opposed to the crime cameras already up around the city streets that capture a general image.

“The idea is if a crime is committed we could get some vehicle information we can put the license plate into the system and it will tell you if the vehicle has passed by or if we know the vehicle has passed by a certain location and we can check to see if the license plates readers picked that up,”

 First Deputy Chief Richard Shoff Jr., Syracuse Police

Deputy Chief Shoff sits on a committee that is currently reviewing a handful of proposals from companies that specialize in this type of surveillance. Shoff says many of the companies have been able to site studies where the automated license plate readers have shown a decrease in crime and an increase in the arrest rate. 

Community activist Bishop Bernard H. Alex of Victory Temple Fellowship Church says these cameras may help in solving crime quicker and acting as a deterrent to those involved in crime. However, he does share skepticism, wondering if this technology goes too far in infringing on a person’s privacy. 

“Yes, there is a concern about quote on quote the preverbal Big Brother. Where is it? Who has it? Who has access to it? What is going to be done with it? When will it be destroyed? For how long will you keep it? All of those questions,”

Bishop Bernard H. Alex, Victory Temple Fellowship Church

Deputy Chief Shoff says it’s too early in the process to share how the data being captured will be stored as it depends on what company is chosen. However, he says all data stored will have to be in compliance with federal regulations. 

“We are not doing any proactive scanning for license plates we have to have a reason why we’re gonna be looking at something,” Deputy Chief Shoff said.

As for the cost, Shoff says that will depend on which company is chosen. The money to pay for the new technology will come from the department’s budget. 

The City of Syracuse is accepting online public comment for the proposed automated license plate readers until Friday, March 24. You can submit your comment here