Apr 8 2013

Piedmont Border Cameras Proposal Attracts CBS, ABC & Chronicle

Once again, Piedmont is receiving attention as an exclusive, wealthy city concerned about others coming into the community.

The CBS San Francisco affiliate broadcast a report titled, “Piedmont hoping to curb burglaries with crime cameras at city limits.”  According to the Wednesday, April 3 newscaat, “Now Piedmont, which is entirely surrounded by Oakland wants to put cameras at all its 30 street-entry points, to trace robbery suspects.”  Piedmonters Lindsay Barstow and John Kelson as well as the Police Chief express support for License Plate Readers (LPRs) on CBS.

The CBS news report contained several errors.  The Piedmont Police Department’s investigation found 24, not 30, points of entry.  CBS also claimed the project was inspired by Tiburon’s drop in such crimes after it installed LPRs at its only two points of entry. But burglaries increased, not decreased after Tiburon acquired their LPRs. The Tiburon LPR system was fully operational in late 2010.  In 2011 the cameras were partially responsible for the recovery of four stolen vehicles.  There were 10 burglaries in Tiburon in 2010 and 15 in 2011, a 50% increase during the first year their LPR system was fully operational.  Burglaries are a prime concern of Piedmont citizens.  Prior to the LPRs there was a dramatic drop in thefts in Tiburon in 2006 to 65 from 124 in 2003. (Watch the CBS video)

The San Francisco Chronicle sent a reporter and photographer to cover the Thursday, April 4 evening meeting of Piedmont’s Public Safety Committee, which discussed the LPR project proposal.  Their article mentions that Piedmont is contemplating an “electronic border” with Oakland.  Also on Monday, April 8, Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate interviewed Piedmonters about the LPRs. (Watch their   broadcast report about Piedmont.)

On KQED radio on Monday, Linda Lye, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California during an interview on KQED public radio commented.  “Comprehensive location tracking by devices such as these License Plate Readers reveal all kinds of intimate details about a person’s life.”  She cited examples such as attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, Union Hall, Abortion Clinic or visiting a gay bar.  Lye said Piedmont’s plan to retain license plate reader records for a full year raises questions about how those records might be used.

Stories have been published in the Sacramento Bee, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Lodi News and a number of other local newspapers. Even the school newspaper covered the issue. Writing in The Piedmont Highlander, Kate Bott, a Piedmont High School student cautioned that the Police Chief’s proposal is taking Piedmont closer to “the Big Brother scenario George Orwell describes in 1984…”

The popular online Daily Kos wrote “Let’s Bring the Ghetto to Piedmont…”



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