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North Myrtle Beach Incident Highlights the Need for Regulations on License Plate Reader Usage

License plate reader technology.

North Myrtle Beach Incident Lays Bare Need for License Plate Reader Regulations

Controversial Arrest Sparks Demand for Better Policing Technology

A contentious detention last month in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is triggering a renewed campaign for enhanced law enforcement accountability and statewide regulation. The event has placed the spotlight on the accountability gap and the lack of clear rules when using License Plate Reader technology.

Lawmakers Responding to the Cry for Accountability

State Rep. Todd Rutherford has made three attempts to present a bill controlling license plate readers, all to no avail as it has yet to reach the House floor. Paul Bowers, representing the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, cited a need for improved regulations regarding the use of license plate readers within the state.

Bowers stated, “The crux of the problem is that no one is being accountable. There are no guardrails regulating the use of this technology. When it comes to automatic license plates, there are often no set rules about how data is collected, stored, maintained, or used as evidence in court.”

Details of the Controversial Incident

The Horry County Police revealed that Lance Cpl. Julian Brown, while driving a police truck, tragically struck and killed a pedestrian, Sandra Schultz-Peters, 66, on the beach last month.

Following this, an 18-year-old named La’Nisha Hemingway pressed charges against the North Myrtle Beach police alleging she was inappropriately detained at gunpoint. The lawsuit filed accounts that the officers received a notification from a license plate reader, mistakenly identifying her car as stolen. It was not long after Hemingway was detained that officers, reportedly, realized their error – having pulled over the wrong car. The lawsuit further alleges that this realization was recorded on the officer’s body camera.

Several key advocates argue that better standards for license plate reading technology could have averted this incident, but that the officers’ initial actions also played a part in escalating the scenario.

The Accountability Debate Heats Up

Rep. Rutherford has questioned who bears responsibility in such a situation, stating, “Are we really blaming the license plate reader? Did it get the information that it was the wrong car before the officer left the vehicle? Who is to blame at that point?”

The bodycam footage from the incident seems to validate that at least one of the involved officers knew they were stopping the wrong vehicle. This has prompted lawmakers, like Rutherford, to demand accountability.

Rutherford asserted, “We now have a scenario where an officer, aware before withdrawing her weapon that the situation did not warrant it, did so regardless. Now what happens? Why must we wait to discover what occurs? Can’t they inform us?”



North Myrtle Beach Incident Highlights the Need for Regulations on License Plate Reader Usage

HERE Irmo
Author: HERE Irmo

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