Soon, they will be watching.
License plate scanners ordered by the York City Police department to collect data on cars parked and driving in the city are scheduled to be installed next month and officials are working to craft a policy about the information they will store.
The readers, which were purchased earlier this year and arrived last week, will be affixed to two city police cars and used to scan the license plates of cars the police cruiser passes. Scanned tag numbers can be automatically matched against databases listing outstanding warrants, a person of interest in a criminal investigation or even a suspected terrorist, officials said at the time.
But the information, much of which will be collected from innocent bystanders, could also conceivably be saved, shared or sold, a concern that was raised by some residents and council members when York City Council approved their purchase in April.
City Police Chief Wes Kahley announced Thursday at town hall meeting that he has been drafting a policy on the scanners that will be completed before they are installed. Kahley would not specify the length of time the draft calls for records to be kept, but said it was within parameters of the International Chiefs of Police Association and the Police Executive Research Forum.
York City Councilman Michael Helfrich spoke at the meeting saying that there have been lawsuits in 38 states about scanners.
Kahley assured Helfrich that he has been researching the issue.
"We're going to have a limited amount of time that were going to keep information and then have it destroyed," Kahley said. "It's going to be a short period of time, and it's actually going to fall much shorter than what those organizations recommend."
Representatives from the manufacturer of the scanners will come to York to install them on the cars, Kahley said. When the policy about their use is completed, it will be available to the public, he said.
Also: York officials have moved forward with plans to shut down water service to delinquent sewer customers. In the last several months, The York Water Company has served 10 customers with notices, city Business Administrator Michael O'Rourke announced Thursday.
Of those, five customers established payment plans, he said. Four properties had been sold at the county's judicial sale during which the debt on the property had been wiped clean. Water was shut off at only one property, O'Rourke said.
"We're going to get to the point where we're posting properties to have water service terminated every day," O'Rourke said. "It's going to create more revenue stream in the sewer fund and help the city financially overall."