Beaux Arts Village considering license plate scanners

by: David Ham Updated:

BEAUX ARTS, Wash. - The town of Beaux Arts is considering scanning every car going in and out of the town so it can gather evidence to help prosecute property crimes.

"Really it's been the lack of ability to prosecute; really it's the nature of the crimes or property crimes in our area.  When they occur often times people aren't home, there aren't witnesses and it makes it very difficult for detectives to follow up and get any kind of traction toward prosecution," said Mayor Richard Leider.

Homeowners met with town leaders on Tuesday night to go over the effectiveness of the scanners and their cost effectiveness.

"Given the number of people who've been freaked out by burglaries and break-ins," Cleo Brookhart added, "I don't think it's a big deal for me personally, it doesn't bother me at all."

The cameras would cost the town about $130,000 for three cameras and about $10,000 to $12,000 to maintain every year.

"If you've seen our town budget a hundred and thirty thousand dollars is a significant amount of our budget," said Fred McCorriston who has lived in the town for more than 30 years.

He also is concerned with privacy issues.

"I think it's overkill and I’m not in favor of it," said McCorriston.

The nearby city of Medina already has the license plate reading cameras. The ACLU says at least 22 law enforcement agencies across the state use license plate scanners.

If Beaux Arts gets the cameras, the mayor believes the data shouldn't be kept for long. He thinks it should be deleted in about one or two weeks.

He also said there is still a need to see who would or would not have access to the database.

"That is a reasonable point, whether or not that is a reasonable trade-off probability to prosecute for crimes," Leider added, "What kind of controls and protocols do we put in place to protect privacy?"

If homeowners react positively to the proposal, then the town council will vote on buying the cameras.