Seattle City Council approves expansion of license plate reading tech

A student who was shot at a high school in Seattle, Washington on Thursday has died from their injuries.

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council has approved the expansion of license plate reading technology for the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) fleet.

On June 18, the city council announced that automated license plate readers (ALPR) technology will be placed on its entire fleet of vehicles.

“In our great city, crime has compounded crime. When someone steals a car, it’s used to smash through a storefront, eroding safety and contributing to a permissive environment. Automated License Plate Reader technology is an essential tool to curtail crime at the source,” said Councilmember Bob Kettle. “We will be able to proactively address crimes as they’re happening and increase the effectiveness of police investigations after offenses occur.”

Several amendments were also introduced to ensure privacy concerns are addressed and to have measures in place for accountability.

“To address privacy concerns, the Council passed a number of amendments and will coordinate closely with our city’s accountability partners to help with those issues,” Councilmember Kettle said.

The use of license plate readers began in 2021 with 11 Seattle Police Department vehicles and was used to locate stolen vehicles, find missing persons, and crimes in progress.

When fully implemented, the police will be able to use the technology to search for wanted individuals, conduct criminal investigations, and canvas a crime scene.

The city council included the $280,000 annual cost to fully equip 360 vehicles in the 2024 SPD budget.

The bill now goes to the Mayor’s desk. If signed, it will go into effect 30 days after signature.

Comments on this article