Mission Hills installing license plate readers at several intersections

Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 7:28 PM CDT
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MISSION HILLS, Kan. (KCTV) - Mission Hills has placed cameras at several intersections, which will allow police to log and track vehicles as a crime prevention tool.

Mayor David Dickey said the city had been planning to install a few cameras for more than a year but decided to expand its network following an uptick in crime in the area, specifically burglaries and car thefts.

So far, the city has installed cameras at five of its busier intersections along State Line, Mission, and Tomahawk roads. Mission Hills plans to install them at five more intersections in the coming weeks.

“I think people appreciate and understand that it’s another element of keeping the community safe, and to deter and stop crime,” Dickey said. “I think people also understand that anymore, in an urban or suburban environment, you’re going to be on camera almost anywhere you go.”

Several other nearby cities already have similar devices in place, including Fairway, Overland Park, Lenexa, Prairie Village and Leawood. Cpt. Ivan Washington said the license plate readers in Mission Hills could work as part of a larger network that could be used for police investigations.

“The next phase in law enforcement is using technology to bring cases to a positive resolution,” Washington said.

Washington works for the Prairie Village Police Department, which also contracts with Mission Hills. He said the cameras would not be used for traffic enforcement.

“There has to be a crime or an incident and then you put a little note in there that says why you’re tracking that vehicle,” Washington said.

Some groups, including the ACLU, have advocated against traffic cameras. The ACLU has tracked their use across the country, including in Missouri and Kansas. A report on the ACLU’s website states:

“Automatic license plate readers have the potential to create permanent records of virtually everywhere any of us has driven, radically transforming the consequences of leaving home to pursue private life, and opening up many opportunities for abuse.”

Dickey said the technology would not be used to violate the privacy of Mission Hills residents, but to solve crimes and act as a deterrent.

“They’re not being used to track people or follow people around,” he said. “I understand the concerns, but the upsides are greater than the downsides.”