Senator says 'balance' is key

Brown eyes Register's coverage of plate readers; calls for open debate
Tom Jackson
Aug 5, 2013


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, says that local police departments have to balance privacy rights with public safety as they decide what to do when they’re offered license plate readers by the Department of Homeland Security.

On Monday,  the Sandusky Register wrote to Brown, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur. The letter, noting that the Register has written about DHS grants providing license plate readers for the Sandusky Police Department and Erie County Sheriff’s Office, asked for help in obtaining information about the program and asked if the lawmakers had any comment.

Brown responded with a statement.

“It is critical that we balance living in a safe society with protecting our right to privacy. That requires local communities being able to have open and honest debates about the best way to achieve that balance, including the appropriate use of surveillance systems. I will continue to monitor this issue to ensure Ohioans have both safety and privacy,” Brown said.

Portman’s staff said the senator had no comment yet. Kaptur’s office didn’t respond to the letter.

The Sandusky Register reported on July 21 that the Sandusky Police Department had mounted a DHS license plate reader on one cruiser, which transmits data on license plates to DHS. Police Chief John Orzech said he has kept the reader in case it turns up information that will be useful.

Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said his department installed several license plate cameras on its units but then removed them after deciding they didn’t provide any help to the department. They weren’t connected to the LEADS system the department uses to find wanted fugitives, Sigsworth said.

Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick said his office received two license plate readers, too. One was installed about a year ago but another was not installed.

“Since seeing your article, you guys’ article in the Sandusky Register … I have told my vehicle maintenance people to remove that one (that was installed). I’m not going to be party to information sharing that we’re not aware of. We were never made aware of that when those pieces of equipment were received, which was prior to my taking office,” he said.

Chief Deputy Bruce Hirt of the Sandusky County Sheriff’s Office said his agency installed two DHS license plate readers earlier this year and are still evaluating if they are  useful.

They are supposed to be able to alert deputies if a car has a stolen license plate. They also have alerted in some cases to outstanding warrants, Hirt said.

Huron County’s sheriff, Dane A. Howard, said he’s received the devices also but has suspended using them until he can get some questions answered.

“I have recently suspended the use of these devices until further notice. Given the recent speculation concerning the final destination of the information received by those devices, I do not feel it is warranted to carry on with this practice,” he said in a statement released to the Register. “I will be contacting our county prosecutor, as well as the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, for advice as to their future use, which at this time seems very unlikely.”

“Initially when we received these devices from the state we felt that they would assist in apprehending wanted criminals. However, we have to maintain public trust and an objective outlook until we are certain where the information goes. We are not here to invade citizens’ privacy, we are here to protect them,” the sheriff said. 

Perkins police chief Ken Klamar and Huron police chief Bob Lippert both said their departments had not received grants for license plate readers.

“And I haven’t asked for them,” Lippert added.


Stop It

Balance 'this', Senator.


Some things are just plain black or white, right or wrong, constitutional or unconstitutional. Fears, baseless or otherwise, don't play into which is which. Infringements of rights mean those rights don't exist at all, even if it takes awhile to eliminate the appearance all together. There's no "balance" to be had here, and any pretense otherwise is just that: pretense.


I think the Patriot Act is an example of huge government over-reach. Enacted as a knee-jerk "we gotta do something - anything!" reaction to 9/11, with bi-partisan support, it was a perhaps understandable reaction during the Threat-Level Orange time of fear that Bush/Cheney used to justify 2 unnecessary wars. We later realized that there weren't terrorists on every corner, waiting to blow up Erie County, but the point is, with fear driving the bus, we all way over-reacted, and things like the Patriot Act (which is in direct conflict with the 4th Amendment) were enacted.

I think we can all agree that we DO want to NSA to try to locate potential terrorists before they act. We can also agree that we don't want the NSA to go too far, by delving into the private lives of Americans who aren't a threat. Finding a happy medium between those two extremes is exactly the common-sense approach Brown is advocating.

This topic is actually a very GOOD example of how most issues are NOT black and white.


Re: "Finding a happy medium between those two extremes is exactly the common-sense approach Brown is advocating."

Sen. Brown's usual sophistry.

Why isn't there a citizen's advocate on the SECRET FISA Court???


Wow. Brown and Portman had the same answer - no comment. Brown just needed to say it in 59 words. His response essentially says nothing.

Carlos Danger

I keep hitting the refresh button on my Internet browser thinking that the Register's website has been stuck for the last three weeks, but then I realize it's just the Register rehashing the same story over and over again . . . and again.


"I will continue to monitor this issue to ensure Ohioans have both safety and privacy,” Brown said.

Is he gonna monitor it from afar or from the NSA by seeing what we are typing :)


We might as well not have any senators.Watch their voting records,they just cancel each other's vote on every bill.

Peninsula Pundit

I believe that balance is the key, as well.
This bozo needs to spend the balance of his days out of office!


there is no such thing in "balance" when the public is having their rights violated by the spying of the government. It is either they are spying on people or they are not. It is as black and white as that. Fighting crime is one thing but obtaining information on everyone is another. I see no benefit in this if even the police find it to be of no benefit. It need go no further than that. Discontinue it and stop making excuses.


4th amendment, Discussion is over.


Don't these people actually swear an "Oath" to defend whatever remains of the Constitution? Surely you remember that, Senator Brown...

Or don't you?

The Big Dog's back

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

What part of that has Sen Brown violated?

Stop It

The part where Senator Brown isn't giving you a reach around as you take it up the backside.



Donegan That whole Indefinate incarceration thing sorta messed up his record for supporting the Constitution. The last sentence says it all "Sherrod Brown must have thought Cenk Uygur and his listeners were stupid, fools and dupes if he was going to make that promise and then go right on pushing for indefinite detention again and again" So far you are proving him correct.


The part that says "...and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched..." You know, the part that means you actually need to be under actual suspicion of something with some evidence pointing that direction before you're surveilled/searched? THAT part? Or is the English language of the Constitution too complex for you to grasp?


Grama: Both parties use and abuse the Constitution to advance their cause. A few weeks ago, Jon Stewart pointed out, on "The Daily Show", examples of GOP congressmen advocating various policies that were in direct conflict with six (6) different amendments. The examples all occurred within one week and on only one topic...

I would say the problem is even bigger than you think: how can supposed supporters of the Constitution defend it, when they don't even know what's in it. GOP, I"m talking to you...


I agree. I've long said that, before every session of Congress, the Constitution should be read aloud. Most either don't know what it actually says, or they don't CARE what it actually says. Both or either are inexcusable in a political representative.

You're also right when you suggest that both parties violate the Constitution on a regular basis. The USA PATRIOT Act, after all, was passed under a Republican administration. Let's not pretend that either the GOP or the Democrat Party are to blame here because they're BOTH guilty!

2cents's picture

"Kaptur’s office didn’t respond to the letter."
LOL, typical!


Not to worry:

Black boxes will be installed in ALL new U.S. licensed vehicles by 2014.

Increasingly smart chips will be used to relay info (as needed) to authorities.

Sen. Brown's "useful idiots" would willingly have an RFID chip be stuck up their tushy if he assured them that it was "balanced."


I'd rather have Sen. Brown and Democrats watching out for us than Republicans ala Bush/Cheney. We all know how that one worked out... Let's see, thousands of Americans dead in two wars, that 9/11 thing when Bush ignored obvious NSA warnings and went on vacation to his ranch, but at least Halliburton made millions for Cheney and cronies...

The only thing that the GOP has shown they're able to protect are the wallets of the ultra-rich...


Once again Coasterfan is devoid of history comprehension. If he would take the time to google Jamie Gorelick and the wall he would understand nobody knew, some agencies had some knowledge but could not share because of a clintonista. In fact most of Bush's patriot act was to tear down the wall.


Coasterfan - "Both parties use and abuse the Constitution to advance their cause."

And then see how quickly you reverted to being a partisan hack.

The Big Dog's back

You are correct Coasterfan.


Re: "Republicans ala Bush/Cheney."

Still rehashing old sh*t Comrade?

Set the time machine dial for 2013. The Dems control 2/3rds of elected federal govt.

Poverty pimping must pay well seeing as how 7 of the 10 richest members on Capital Hill are Democrats.


"NSA Collects 'Word for Word' Every Domestic Communication, Says Former Analyst"

And OF COURSE PBS is FULL of "right wingnuts." :)


You do realize that piddle puppy enjoys having his nose rubbed in it, don't you? he makes so many easily proven mis-statements it can't JUST be stupidity.