mostlycloudy
Saturday July 4th, 2015 11:19AM

Tybee Island scraps plan to track license plates

By The Associated Press
TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (AP) -- Tybee Island officials agreed unanimously Monday to retreat from plans to install machines designed to scan and record the license plates of every car and truck coming onto the island, an idea that was met with hostile emails from people fearing Big Brother would be monitoring beach vacations.

It took the small coastal community's City Council just 10 minutes to reverse a decision it made less than three weeks ago to spend nearly $29,000 on computer-linked cameras to scan car tags on the only road linking Georgia's largest public beach to the mainland.

"If the whole purpose was to track tourism and ultimately bring more tourists here, but it was turning people away, then that's counter-productive," said Mayor Jason Buelterman.

Officials on the beach getaway of 3,100 residents about 18 miles east of Savannah had said they wanted the license-plate scanners to help them gather how many cars were coming onto the island, precisely when they arrived and whether they stayed for a few days or a few hours. They also wanted to use the tag data to see where visitors were coming from by state and county.

Buelterman said Monday city officials had learned the scanners they planned to buy wouldn't automatically count vehicles or analyze tag numbers to tell where vehicles were registered. Backlash from residents and potential tourists played a role, he said, noting that he had personally received about 100 emails about the scanners with most of them opposed to the idea.

Officials insisted they weren't trying to spy on visitors, but wanted the license plate information for a tourism study to help the island focus its marketing efforts. Buelterman said precise data on how many cars were coming from out of town would have helped win state and federal grants for beach maintenance projects such as replenishing sand washed away by erosion.

The City Council was scheduled Dec. 12 to consider guidelines for letting Tybee Island's small police force use the license plate scanners. In many U.S. cities, police use the scanners to look for cars registered to people with arrest warrants, track suspected drug dealers or search for vehicles linked to child abductions.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a July report based on information from hundreds of U.S. law enforcement agencies that scanners nationwide now capture and store information on millions of vehicles, most belonging to Americans suspected of no wrongdoing. The ACLU says dropping costs have helped spread made the technology to smaller cities. Still, Tybee Island seemed like an unusual candidate considering it has so little crime. Tybee Island police reported four violent crimes, all aggravated assaults, last year and zero violent crimes in 2011, according to local crime statistics reported to the FBI.

Tybee Island Police Chief Robert Bryson said the scanners would have helped catch criminals from neighboring Savannah, which has a much higher crime rate.

"It would have been a useful tool," Bryson said. "But to live without it is no problem."

After ruling out the tag scanners, Tybee officials agreed to look into spending about $7,000 on a device that's buried under the road and simply counts cars without collecting any license plate information.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Medicaid growth creates gap of 5M without coverage; 409K in Ga.
About 5 million people will be without health care next year that they would have gotten simply if they lived somewhere else in America.
7:30AM ( 1 year ago )
Vandals spray graffiti against Kerry in West Bank
Suspected Jewish vandals set fire to three vehicles in a West Bank village early on Tuesday and sprayed threatening graffiti referring to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of his expected visit to the region, police said.
7:28AM ( 1 year ago )
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
2:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
America welcomes July 4 with hot dogs, cool music, cold beer
The United States marks 239 years as an independent nation on Saturday as it celebrates the Fourth of July with fireworks, food and music. Here are some highlights and lowlights of Independence Day ce...
10:49AM ( 29 minutes ago )
SCOGA upholds conviction, life sentence given Buford teen in death of her mother
The Supreme Court of Georgia (SCOGA) has unanimously upheld the murder conviction and life prison sentence given to Brenda O’Connell, who was 15 years old when she and her sister, Catherine O’Connell, were charged with killing their adoptive mother.
10:40AM ( 39 minutes ago )
An 'atypical' 4th, thanks to the weather
July 4th is shaping up to be anything but typical in north Georgia because of the weather.
10:07AM ( 1 hour ago )
UNG campuses adding more parking, classrooms this summer
Construction projects to add more parking, classroom and recreational spaces on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) four campuses are in progress and should be finished sometime this fall.
By AccessWDUN staff
9:15AM ( 2 hours ago )
Security heightened for Fourth of July events in Ga.
Emergency responders had an increased presence at the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta and plan to be at more than 100 other events throughout the state during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
By Associated Press
8:33AM ( 2 hours ago )