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Camera program expands in cop cars - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Camera program expands in cop cars

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ST. ALBANS, Vt. -

On average, a Vermont state trooper takes 800 pictures of license plates a day, so odds are your car has been caught on camera.

"You hear the beep and thats letting me know its taking the pictures every time it beeps," says Vt. State Police trooper Mike Anderson.

That's right -- a picture of your license plate. Odds are if you've traveled state roads in Vermont, state police have a picture of your car saved in their data base.

"Instead of having an officer sit there and write down license plate numbers on a particular road we have a machine that's doing the same thing," says Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn.

Vermont State Police and several city police departments formed a partnership four years ago to test these license plate reading cameras, a program they've decided to expand. These cameras screen cars as they drive by against what's called a 'hot list' of wanted vehicles.

"Those vehicles may be wanted because they're involved in the possible transportation of a felon, they may be stolen vehicles," says Lt. Michael Macarilla with the Vermont State Police.

These cameras take pictures from both sides, so no matter which way you're driving state troopers will get a picture of your license plate.

Even if you've done nothing wrong your license plate's picture will stay in the state police database for four years. Which has some drivers concerned for their privacy.

"I think its all right as long as you're not doing anything wrong, but there is a point when it invades your rights, like if you're just late on your registration," says driver Dylan Pipe of St. Albans.

Vermont state and city police currently have these cameras in 31 locations statewide, and they come at a cost.

"Each system runs $16-18,000 per car," Lt. Macarilla says.

He also says they're especially handy for catching cars leaving a crime scene.

"We can then go back in and say there's license plate abc 123 and it was right there on South Main Street in Waterbury at 11:00 and it gives us an idea of where to go from there," he says.

So if you're doing nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about, but there's little you can do to keep your plates picture from being captured.

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