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Michigan State Police says license plate readers are helping to solve crimes along freeways

Posted at 6:14 AM, Jul 05, 2023

(WXYZ) — Back in February, Michigan State Police began installing license plate readers along metro Detroit freeways where road rage and freeway shootings were far too common. These license plate readers are part of a pilot program to help law enforcement quickly identify a suspect's vehicle that may have been involved in a crime and according to Michigan State Police, they are already making a world of difference.

"We've used it in probably 90% of the freeway shootings that have occurred and we have an arrest in all of them," Lieutenant Michael Shaw with Michigan State Police said.

These license plate readers were installed along I-96 and the Southfield Freeway. They capture every plate of every car that drives by. The plate is stored for 30 days in a database and law enforcement can go back and check to see what vehicles were in the area.

These readers are valuable to law enforcement for helping to solve violent crimes like freeway shootings, but some, like Raid Karoumi, remain skeptical.

"In that sense, and those purposes then yeah. They're being used for a good cause you know? As long as they're not taking that and then using it for other purposes that are unfair to the driver. Not everyone is always driving with the cleanest records," he said.

The cameras are also used in Amber Alerts and in Silver Alerts when trying to help find someone who might be missing. Lieutenant Shaw also reemphasized that these license plate readers are not used for traffic offenses.

"They're very useful in looking for missing drivers, especially elderly that may have dementia or something like that," he said.

Others 7 Action News spoke with like Lakisha James says they're in favor of the license plate readers.

"It can be a little bit of a privacy invasion, maybe. But I think the benefit of the crime, to help reduce the crime or solve the crime, is better than anything," she said.