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License plate reader decision delayed

Friday, June 24, 2022 by Elizabeth Pagano

A proposal to allow the Austin Police Department to use license plate readers once again has been put on hold until later this summer. Council Member Mackenzie Kelly, who sponsored the resolution, offered to postpone the item until July 28 and to make it part of the city’s upcoming budget process. “My commitment is, and will forever be, to those that risk their lives each day to keep our city safe. But I also want the community to be able to fully understand how this tool is going to be utilized,” she said. Chris Harris, the policy director at Austin Justice Coalition, also supported the delay, saying that the return of the devices “should be subject to a broader community conversation.” Harris added, “We understand that automated license plate readers enable – particularly if used improperly – a vast amount of surveillance. They enable increased criminalization, depending on how hot lists and other things are set up. They can be a tool that has some benefits, but also has extreme risks.”

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