Marco Island residents suing city, police chief over surveillance on the bridges

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
(Credit: WINK News)

Marco Island is facing a lawsuit over privacy issues after residents learned the city is tracking drivers that cross the bridges.

The city says the cameras on the bridges are to keep people safe. The cameras are mounted on poles at each bridge on Marco Island.

The software takes pictures of each vehicle and its license plate as it goes by, logging the date and the time. The city says the photos are used to help find criminals.

Three people on Marco Island, who have filed a lawsuit against the city, fear it is much more than that. They feel they are under surveillance and are treated like criminals themselves.

Most people who live on Marco Island have a lifestyle of beautiful homes on the water, separated from the rest of Collier County by bridges.

“We have a nice little, like, gated community coming over the island and we want to keep it that way,” said Marco Island resident Ronald Kelley.

Kelley said the city’s license plate readers at the island entrances and exits help him feel safe and secure. “Keep crime out. And I don’t do anything wrong so I’m not really worried about the license plates.”

While Kelley likes the cameras, some of his neighbors don’t.

They filed a lawsuit against Marco Island and Police Chief Tracey Frazzano.

Richard Samp, an attorney with New Civil Liberties Alliance, said, “over the course of time, they basically are creating a database on everybody who is within the city, and that sort of government surveillance is not permitted under the fourth amendment to the constitution.”

Samp represents the three Marco Island homeowners who are suing the city.

“They are law-abiding citizens who have nothing to hide, but they do have privacy that they wish to maintain,” said Samp.

Marco Islander Arlon Sanbulte said he accepts that in this modern world, he can’t always count on privacy.

Sanbulte said, “I don’t think that’s a big deal. I think they have to see cars going across there that they’re looking for. I think it’s a good deal.”

Marco Island isn’t the only place in Southwest Florida with license plate readers. Naples, Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties, Fort Myers and Cape Coral all use them too.

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