MoDOT orders City of St. Louis to take down license plate reader - KMOV.com

MoDOT orders City of St. Louis to take down license plate readers

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License plate readers were removed from two St. Louis intersections on Monday. (Credit: KMOV) License plate readers were removed from two St. Louis intersections on Monday. (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

License plate readers were removed from two St. Louis intersections on Monday.

Some city officials are frustrated by the order from the state transportation department.

“We just got punched in the nose,” said St. Louis City Director of Operations Todd Waelterman. “They took our tools away,” he added.

The cameras were taken down at Cass Avenue and Tucker Boulevard, which feeds to I-70, and at Memorial Drive and Washington Avenue, which sits at the mouth of the Eads Bridge.

Police tout the cameras as helping them to make more than 149 arrests since they were installed in June 2015.

The cameras were installed after an agreement between the city and MoDOT for a pilot program for five years.

MoDOT sent the city a letter in May alerting the city that if state legislation wasn’t passed this session, the license plate readers would need to come down by June 1, 2018.

MoDOT said the issue comes down to the Missouri Constitution.

The department said state law currently doesn’t give it the power to grant access to law enforcement to collect data on the property.

“We are not provided by the state’s constitution or by statute the authority to provide access to the state’s owned transportation network for the purposes of law enforcement other than enforcing motor vehicle laws,” said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna.

McKenna said action needs to happen at the state level for this to change.

He added there are four to five cameras across the state that were taken down or stopped operating. This includes the ones in St. Louis, some in Boone County and others at weigh stations.

The city said it is now looking at its options.

In order to track the same traffic, Waelterman said they would need to add cameras to three or four intersections.

“Why do we need to put up three times the equipment in this economy when we’re all fighting for dollars?” asked Waelterman.

He said to install license plate readers at Cass and Tucker it cost about $30,000. He believes to cover the same traffic at different intersections a block away the cost is closer to $120,000.

MoDOT said it has tried for two years to get legislation passed with no luck.

The letter from MoDOT is below:

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