3/21/2018Minnesota Lawmakers Want To Audit License Plate Cameras
Minnesota state lawmakers push to update existing audit requirements for police departments using license plate cameras.
House and Senate committees in Minnesota gave a preliminary go ahead to a legislative proposal that would update transparency requirements for agencies that use automated license plate readers (ALPR, known as ANPR in Europe). The measures under consideration would adjust existing law to require law enforcement to report more fully on their use of the devices in a biennial audit.
The move was inspired by the bipartisan Legislative Data Practices Commission, which reviewed existing law and made a number of recommendations. In response, the House and Senate bills spell out in greater detail what an "independent" audit of a camera program means.
"We had an incident where a city -- I believe it was Minneapolis was auditing Hennepin County, and vice versa, and we didn't feel there was enough space between those entities to really give us a level of comfort," Representative Peggy Scott (R-Andover), the House bill sponsor, explained in a committee hearing. "Our analysis was that these need to be done in an independent manner."
Under her proposal, cities and counties could not trade audits with one another. Instead, each police department using the cameras would have to submit reports by a common deadline, spelling out all of the departmental policies that apply to camera use. If the audit uncovers evidence that the jurisdiction is not following the law, the state can order the plug pulled on that department's cameras.
Whenever police use a camera, they must log the number of vehicles that were photographed, along with the locations and dates the system was used. The log must also note what state and federal plate databases were checked -- "unless the existence of the database itself is not public." The proposal extends this to specify how many hits were made on stolen plates, and vehicles that belong to someone with an arrest warrant or suspended license.
The bill remains a work in progress. After meeting with representatives of law enforcement, Scott agreed to ease some of the requirements.
"Some of the data would have to be collected manually, and we just felt that was too onerous," Scott said. "So we'll be changing some of these sections."
A copy of the bill is available in a 250k PDF file at the source link below.