Police are getting a big technology upgrade- a new scanning system that reads license plates in real time.
Officers says say it's a big help, but critics say it's more like big brother.
The Little Rock and North Little Rock police departments each have a cruiser with the new scanning technology. It's not cheap, at $18,000 a unit, but both departments have already ordered more.
Sargeant Brian Dedrick, spokesperson for the NLRPD, says the cruiser is equipped with two rear-mounted cameras that scan license plate information and sends it to the front seat where a processor crunches it like an over-caffeinated calculator.
"(It) can scan the mall parking lot in a matter of minutes," Dedrick said. "We couldn't even do that three years go."
The scanner constantly checks the numbers against a database of warrants and stolen car information, and lights up and sounds an alarm if it finds a match.
The ACLU Arkansas isn't too keen on the technology.
"It's just one chink in the wall of privacy," says Director Rita Sklar.
It's not the active plate scanning, Sklar says:
"I don't think I have a problem with that. The question is- what are they doing with the data?"
Dedrick says the NLRPD doesn't save the data it collects. But a similar car in Little Rock does, recording the exact time and location of every license plate scanned, for up to three years.
"There is no reason for the government to hold on the information of perfectly innocent people because they are looking for criminals" Sklar said.
Dedrick says the scanner has already helped recover half a dozen stolen cars, and identify four people wanted on warrants.