** See March 2022 coverage on license plate readers used in Brooklyn in the player above.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio (WJW) — Beachwood has installed 31 new cameras throughout the city that can capture drivers’ license plates to catch criminals and deter crime, according to a news release.

Another four are on the way, planned for major intersections and roads in and out of the city, according to Beachwood Police Chief Kate McLaughlin. In total, the city is expected to spend $381,051, including installation costs.

Mayor Justin Berns is quoted in the release: “This technology will better align our law enforcement work with what’s happening nationwide, and it will offer greater protection to our residents and visitors.”

The readers have high-speed cameras that can snap motorists’ visible license plates. They also track the time, date and location they were seen. If that information matches what’s on the police’s “hot list,” officers are alerted.

“That information can be used to assist to stop crimes in progress, locate missing and/or endangered persons, as well as provide investigative leads for crimes that have already occurred,” the release states.

Many law enforcement agencies and retail organizations across the country are now using them, and the city considers them “highly effective,” according to the release.

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has raised questions about how their systems store motorists’ personal information and for how long. The cameras can snapshot thousands of plates per minute, according to an ACLU Ohio briefing published in 2013.

“More importantly, this happens without so much as one solitary statewide guideline to govern how long the data is being kept or with whom it is being shared,” Policy Coordinator Melissa Bilancini wrote in a 2014 op-ed for Cleveland.com.

“This is a recipe for trouble.”

McLaughlin said the information captured by Beachwood’s new cameras can only be accessed by law enforcement officials trained in LEADS, the state’s criminal information database.

Beachwood now has 31 cameras and two mobile units on patrol vehicles. More are on-order for fall, said McLaughlin. The police department intends to seek grant funding “to add additional cameras in the future,” she said.

“We believe our LPRs will greatly enhance our efforts to ensure public safety and expedite our ability to identify and apprehend individuals involved in criminal activity,” McLaughlin is quoted in the release.

The Beachwood Place shopping mall also collaborated on the program, according to the release.

“We strive every day to create a great environment for our guests and tenants, and the use of LPRs at our entrances help to ensure our entire community feels safe,” Heidi Yanok, the mall’s senior general manager, is quoted in the release.