The City of Myrtle Beach plans to install stationary license plate readers to record the plates of cars entering and exiting the city at eight major gateways by Memorial Day weekend. Myrtle Beach police say they need the plate readers to help them battle crime.
Some area tourists we spoke with on the boardwalk in downtown Myrtle Beach, however, voiced concerns about a “big brother”, catch all approach at data collecting on every tourist to uncover the crimes of a few. “I just don’t feel safe having local governments collecting data on every person who visits their city,” said Sue Watson, a snowbird who visits Myrtle Beach from Canada every winter. “I don’t trust the government to be responsible with all of that data they are collecting,” she added.
Myrtle Beach police Capt. Kevin Heins said the latest quote from the software company for just the equipment and minus an onsite survey could be as low as $426,936, but the price could go up. Poles may be needed to get cameras above certain roadways, he said.
Beginning Memorial Day 2016, just in time for the peak Summer tourist season, fixed license plate readers will snap a photo of every passing car, recording the tag, date, time and GPS location of all vehicles entering or exiting the city.
MyrtleBeachSC.com has been told that the software will also allow the city to capture vehicle occupants. The software alerts dispatch officers immediately concerning expired tags, missing persons, stolen cars, wanted vehicles associated with previous criminal cases, and murder suspects.
“This is just a sign of these times,” said Robert Palowsky, a snowbirder from New York. “Every city is going to have these. Residents are just going to have to adjust to living in a world where municipalities increase in power. They can monitor our every move… and practically every thought,” he added.
What is your opinion: Are plate readers great for crime? or Does the era of Big Brother concern you? Will plate readers keep your family away from visiting Myrtle Beach this year? or Do you feel safer knowing they will be installed?