Man files suit against Lee’s Summit over collected surveillance data

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Lee’s Summit for its automated license plate reader surveillance program. One local man says the city is not complying with the Missouri Sunshine Law statutes.

The man who filed lawsuit says the city is collecting data on law-abiding citizens but has no right to do so.

“Lee’s Summit is operating surveillance cameras, license plate readers, automatic license plate cameras that record where you work, where you bank, where you do your shopping, if you go to a gun store, what restaurants you go to. And they save this data,” said Bob Gough, the executive director of the Jackson County Taxpayers Association.

Last week he filed a lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court against the city of Lee’s Summit.

“They have no warrant to do this, this is data collected on law-abiding citizens going about their daily activities,” Gough said.

He says the purpose of the lawsuit is to dismantle the entire operation.

“My lawsuit first asks for the city to comply with the open records law, since the operation is conducted by taxpayer dollars, using taxpayer vehicles, and taxpayer personnel,” added Gough.

He says the city of Lee’s Summit refuses to comply with the Missouri Sunshine Statutes.

“My suit asks them to either comply with the statues or shut down the operation,” he said, “It is not the purpose of the government to surveil innocent citizens, law-abiding citizens, going about their daily activities.”

On the Kansas side, Major Dawn Layman, with the Lenexa Police Department, said although they might use different companies, each police department’s license plate readers are used for the same purpose and have the same guidelines.

“It’s collecting the characters only on the tag, plus the location, the date and the time, and a photograph of the car. No personal identifiable information is associated with that data collection,” said Layman, “There has to be some law enforcement purpose to go in and search for that data.”

She says there are a lot of misconceptions about gather your personal information this way, but the police department only uses license plate information in addition to information they already have.

“The license plate readers are just another tool in an investigative purpose,” Layman adds.

She says they typically keep the information for 12 to 18 months.

The Lee’s Summit Police Department did not want to comment on camera about this case, but sent a statement that says it has one license plate reader that works in the same way as the Lenexa Police Department. The ACLU for both Missouri and Kansas declined to comment on this case.

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