- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Friday he had vetoed legislation aimed at restricting the use of automatic license plate readers.

The governor said the legislation, which would have limited how long police could keep data unrelated to an active investigation collected by readers to seven days, could jeopardize public safety.

McAuliffe said the tight time frame could hurt law enforcement agencies’ ability to investigate “potential criminal or terrorist activity.” The governor tried to amend the legislation last month to limit the time police could hold on to the data for 60 days, but the General Assembly rejected those efforts.

McAuliffe said other provisions of the bill were worded in a way that could have unintended consequences, such as making traffic and tolling cameras illegal.

Sen. Chap Petersen, a Fairfax County Democrat who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, said McAuliffe’s veto sent a message that police have unlimited power.

“There is no need for the commonwealth to be collecting private information on its own citizens, without a warrant or investigation,” Petersen said in a statement. “It is time for that Patriot Act mentality to end.”

The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association cheered McAuliffe’s veto, saying the issue needs further study before lawmakers act.

Limiting police surveillance technology was a major topic during the General Assembly session earlier this year, with lawmakers from across the political spectrum teaming up to pass several related bills.

On Friday, McAuliffe announced he’d signed one of those bills, which requires law enforcement agencies to get search warrants before using drones.

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