Apr 1 2013

License Plate Readers on April 4 Public Safety Agenda

Public Safety Committee to discuss benefits and appropriateness of License Plate Readers in Piedmont – 

On Thursday, April 4, at 5:30 p.m., the Committee will meet in the Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, to consider:

  •  Update on Neighborhood Watch Meetings
  •  Discussion of License Plate Readers for Piedmont
  •  Discussion of Home and/or Private Surveillance Camera Systems
  •  Discussion of Harvest Festival Event Planning
  •  Discussion of Piedmont Safety Committee Charge

Staff reports are  not available as of this date, nor is information on whether the meeting will be broadcast via KCOM or streamed live on the internet.  The public can participate in the meeting at City Hall.

After a presentation by Piedmont Police Chief  Riki Goede at a recent City Council meeting on the efficacy of placing License Plate Readers (LPR) at various streets leading into Piedmont, the City Council referred the matter to the Public Safety Committee for consideration and requested more information from staff on funding sources, using a sole source provider, the 3M company, and examples of effectiveness from other cities or communities similar to Piedmont.

Piedmont residents have expressed differing opinions about the LPR program. Some questioned the cost effectiveness of the $1 million-plus program, while others urged immediate installation of LPRs due to a number of recent home invasion robberies under gunpoint.

Read more about LPRs

Network of License Plate Readers Proposed for Piedmont

4 Responses to “License Plate Readers on April 4 Public Safety Agenda”

  1. I am very much in favor of this idea. It is about time we start doing something to control the increasing crime rate and robberies in our community. How many home invasions should be tolerate before taking the next step! It is an appropriate response to an unfortunate situation. Streets are public places and there should be no expectation to privacy when entering or exiting the City boundaries.

  2. I want to know how license plate readers would solve the problem and why a single source contract is considered the best alternative. The reason competitive bidding is generally required for governments is to make sure need analysis is done by the public entity and there is competition in pricing.

  3. As I understand it, the single source contract is due to the fact that 3M is the ONLY company providing access to a server that contains the “NICRICS” data.The chief indicated that this was the most comprehensive data set for stolen/felony license plates used to check vehicles against. Such data is public domain and it may just be a matter of time before other companies upload data or develop software to provide access to this data. That said, competitive bidding is essential. I think in this case, we would be comparing the 3M system to another system of different capability. I am sure this question will come up at today’s Public Safety meeting, 5:30 in City Hall.

  4. There are three separate ideas here:

    1) Camera
    2) License plate recognition
    3) Checking plates to a database

    Can we do this one step at a time?

    Item 1: Costs less than $1,000 for each self-contained multi-camera station sold at Costco.

    Items 2 and 3 can be done manually after crimes are committed. This is similar to what they do when for photo-enforcement of traffic light violations, where a person’s image is manually matched to a license plate.

    Garret Keating posted:
    “Cameras that store data can provide video for post-crime analysis – that may require additional investigative resources … the Juvenile/School Resource Officer may be able to take on this responsibility. There were zero investigations in the minor offender program last year.”

    As the “Pincher House” said on another post, cameras can be a “deterrent pre crime and a potential aid post crime … [but] They will not PROTECT people. … No tech is flawless. No response time is guaranteed. No camera will be a silver bullet to our problem.”

    Particularly if there are statistics that back up the effectiveness of automated license plate readers, they can be a good idea and I would be for it, but not if their elevated cost results in the whole camera project being scrapped.

    We simply need cameras (currently we have nothing) so all suspects entering and leaving Piedmont either on foot or on the road can leave a visual footprint. Once one person is prosecuted using the technology, word will spread.

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