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Police may soon know when every vehicle enters and exits an Ypsilanti Township roadway

Car dashboard

Ypsilanti Township is considering installing several dozen automatic license plate readers.

The devices would take photos of license plates of vehicles entering and exiting the township's roadways.

Jerry Clayton is Washtenaw County Sheriff. In an April presentation, he said the devices would only be used to investigate serious crimes or missing person cases.

And he said officers would still need probable cause to stop the vehicle.

"I don't want a Big Brother state," he said, "and I don't believe it has to be either/or. I think we can leverage the technology, if we decide to move forward, in the most appropriate way without causing harm to our community."

Public comments during the presentation were more negative than positive.

"We can’t trust the stated intentions of police," said one participant. "This information has been shared inappropriately by other police departments."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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