The Buda City Council voted to establish a policy for automatic license plate readers, or ALPRs, from FlockSafety to be used by the Buda Police Department at a meeting Aug. 16. ALPRs are devices that use cameras and computer technology, and compare digital images to lists of information of interest, according to the policy.

Lists of pertinent information from databases include but are not limited to the National Crime Information Center, the Texas Crime Information Center and local Be On the Lookout notices.

However, concerns regarding privacy arose after two surveys that were conducted among citizens. In the first survey, about 46% of respondents said they have concerns about the cameras.

Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd said the cameras will not be watched or monitored and are not for traffic enforcement; they will be reviewed after the fact, in the event of an incident involving criminal investigations. He also added that the only people who have access to the cameras are three individuals in the criminal investigations division.

Officers will still need probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop any vehicle, and the cameras change nothing about that process, Kidd said. The ALPRs cannot be used as a basis for a traffic stop.

Officers are expected to take extra steps and verify any information pulled from ALPRs before making any stops.

Additionally, all data will be purged after 30 days, and none of the information will be subject to open record requests.

Mayor Lee Urbanovsky said he would like to see an annual evaluation established to assess the ALPRs and decide whether to continue using them.

A grant has also been approved for the purchase and installation of the cameras for the first year, after which it would need to be budgeted for by the council or city staff for upkeep and maintenance.