a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Get it right or don’t get it at all: forum on license plate scanner

Posted by Thomas Nephew on February 13th, 2009

I’ve just posted this announcement to a local listserv and to facebook; more emailings will follow.


You are invited to a forum about the proposed license plate scanner acquisition by the Takoma Park Police Department. The forum will be in the Azalea Room of the Takoma Park Community Center (7500 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, MD – map) on Wednesday, February 25, from 7-9pm.

The forum is hosted by a concerned Takoma Park citizen, Thomas Nephew, and is open to the public. Three speakers are invited:

  • Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel at The Constitution Project.
    Ms. Franklin and the Constitution Project developed the “Guidelines for Public Video Surveillance” detailing model processes for considering the acquisition of video surveillance equipment, and detailing model legislation when such equipment is acquired.
  • David Zirin, an anti-death penalty activist (and writer for The Nation) unjustifiably surveilled by the Maryland State Police from 2005 to 2006.
  • Johnny Barnes, Executive Director of the National Capital Area ACLU.
    Mr. Barnes and the NCA-ACLU have been instrumental in critiquing and reining in video surveillance in the District of Columbia.

After an introduction and remarks by the speakers, there will be a question and answer discussion period. Speakers will talk about the types of questions residents should be asking, and the approach the city should take:

  • What are the civil liberties and civil rights concerns with the system?
  • What guidelines and safeguards would address those concerns? Are they available to Takoma Park?
  • What can we do?

This may seem a simple matter of law enforcement to some, and may seem like a “done deal” to others. Neither is the case. Come find out why Takoma Park should get it right — or not get it at all.


PS: Links to various background documents and web sites are collected at a “Takoma Park PD license plate scanner” page here:

One Response to “Get it right or don’t get it at all: forum on license plate scanner”

  1. » Blog Archive » A forum on license plate scanners Says:

    […] Get it right or don’t get it at all: forum on license plate scanner […]

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