New Orleans ordinance, if passed, could limit license plate readers

License Plate Reader Program

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Councilman Jason Williams wants to make sure to limit any implementation of future crime camera technology.

“The purpose of this legislation does not presuppose or suggest any existing bad intent of any sort of current use or misuse of technology,” Williams said.

Right now, the city has license plate recognition cameras but no facial recognition cameras. Lakeview Crime Prevention District Vice President Brian Anderson is against the proposal.

"I think doing that puts one more barricade in front of law enforcement trying to do their jobs," Anderson said.

In a presentation to the Smart and Sustainable Cities Committee. Marvin Arnold with Eye on Surveillance says the ordinance would allow the city to prevent potential abuse.

“I know these proposals seem bold and asking a lot of change from the city,” Arnold said, “but at the same time we’re engaged in this dialogue we are also trying to stay with national trends.”

The ordinance, if passed, would require any city agency looking to add cameras to make a formal request to city council. “Basically, [it] articulates a clear statement on how it’s intended to be used, what the scope and purpose is and what the anticipated impacts are,” said Chris Kaiser with the ACLU of Louisiana. Kaiser says agencies using active technology would have six months to make a formal request to continue operating the devices to council, according to the proposed ordinance.

All committee members say the proposal is still in its early stages and needs more community input. Meantime, they acknowledge some of their constituents want more cameras not less.

“I can definitely tell you I get requests for cameras, every day,” said Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen. “Every day. Every single day I get requests for more cameras in district E.”

“I don’t think we are in the position to throw all of the technology out,” Councilman Jay H. Banks said, “but I think there is a way we can get to a medium and use it effectively.”

The committee did not vote on anything. The council is asking Eye on Surveillance to reach out to community members and get their inputs before moving ahead.

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