In '05, the city outsourced its parking-ticket operations to locally based Affiliated Computer Service; then, a year later, forked over an additional five figures so the company could mount a few AutoVu license plate recognition cameras, making it easier to spot and track drivers who couldn't, didn't or just wouldn't feed the meters. When City Hall renewed its contract with ACS last year, part of the deal was: "new state-of-the-art equipment, which is essential for locating scofflaws and gaining payment compliance. The equipment can also be used to locate stolen vehicles." Or, turns out, anyone else owing a dime to Dallas.
On the other side is the complete packet of memos sent to the city council Friday night. On Page 5 you'll find First Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez's note about how, any day now, the city will begin using LPR cameras as part of a pilot program to "locate individuals owning outstanding City of Dallas fines and fees by identifying their vehicles on Dallas streets and then posting notices on vehicles that may have outstanding bills with the Dallas Courts offices." That notice also follows, for those needing a sneak peek at the fine print.
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Not sure if the city's still using AutoVu cams, but it looks like Motorola has a nice set-up. Anyway. Last summer the Texas Observer ran a piece about how cops statewide are using the LPR cams without most Texans even aware they're at work; Big Brother, y'all. Local defense attorney Mike Lowe sums it up thusly: "That's right: Texas law enforcement is using 'mass surveillance' without your approval." Writes Gonzalez, hey, it's gotta be done: "While we understand that we are going through some tough economic times, we hope that this project will assist with compliance efforts."