May 6 2013

License Plate Readers BAFPC and CIP May 9

Funding limits and recommendation to City Council.

The Council looks to the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee and Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Review Committee to advise them on financial issues and capital expenditure related to the proposed License Plate Readers.  The unique joint meeting of the two committees will take place in the Council Chambers starting at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 9. The public can participate in addressing the issues at the meeting.  Broadcasting of the meeting has not been announced.


1. Presentation on License Plate Reader proposal from Police Chief Rikki Goede
2. Joint discussion of License Plate Reader proposal by the Committees
3. Consideration of recommendation to City Council on License Plate Reader proposal by CIP Review Committee
4. Consideration of recommendation to City Council on License Plate Reader proposal by Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Members:

Mary Geong, Steven Hollis, Bill Hosler, Tom Lehrkind, Tim Rood

Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Review Committee Members:

John Cooper, Ryan Gilbert, Nancy Lehrkind, Jeffrey St. Claire


Previous Comments on License Plate Readers have varied from support for the original Proposed installation at all City entrances:

 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.

Ken Lewis

Some comments questioned / wondered how License Plate Reader Systems will reduce crime:

I want to know how license plate readers would solve the problem …

Kathleen Quenneville


Having moved to Oakland I have become acutely aware of the crime situation. Homeowner’s Associations are hiring private patrols, setting up cameras etc.

One issue you should look into regarding the installation of license plate reading cameras is the question of how many crimes involve an automobile that has either:
1. no plates (removed or covered or coated so that they cannot be read by a camera)
2. stolen plates
3. the automobile was stolen immediately before the crime for that purpose.

So plate readers may help, but are certainly NO PANACEA!
The rate of unuseful plate #’s in Oakland is high. And I have discovered that many of my well-educated neighbors here in Oakland aren’t even aware that Piedmont is a separate city, so how many criminals know that??

Susan R. Schroeder

Others questioned cost and methodology and ask for statistics:

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.

John Roberts

There was discussion of single source bidding of the project:

I want to know … 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.

Kathleen Quenneville

What is the City’s current Request for Proposal Policy? The last Council meeting brought forth a million dollar project – Automatic License Plate Readers – that had no RFP. The single vendor contacted conducted the assessment of what is needed and then produced a preliminary bid.

Rick Schiller

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.

Garret Keating

2 Responses to “License Plate Readers BAFPC and CIP May 9”

  1. License plate readers are the right tool at the right time at the right place. They will provide a deterrent against crime and help solve crimes. I retired last year after 32 years in the San Francisco Police Department. I have arrested, investigated, and worked to deter criminals. Rational criminals (and most are) will go where it is easiest and they have least chance of being caught. If we let them know that there is more risk here they will go somewhere else. Piedmont because of natural and man made boundaries has limited ways to get in thereby making camera more efficient as more cars go through fewer streets. The information stored in NCRIC is not in the public domain any more than other information in DHS. This information is protected as well as the government is able. Any system could be theoretically hacked but someone who could would not care about our license plates. Having been involved in some government contracts I would generally agree about competitive bidding. Often with concentrated expertise and new technology that is not possible. We want a company that has a successful record of doing exactly what we want them to do. Finally we just hired a new Chief to implement strategies to fight crime. She has a lot riding on this working out and has investigated alternatives. If we are going to stop her first major initiative then why did we hire her and why would she want to stay? Lets move forward

  2. Law enforcement preventative tools stop crime before it occurs. Chief Goede referred to ALPRs in a KRON-TV interview: “It’s not a crime prevention tool, it’s more of an investigative tool on the back end.” For the criminal “community” to understand there is a high conviction rate in Piedmont, should that high rate actually materialize, will take at least several years. An immediate deterrent is an active citizen base calling when odd action is observed. The fundamental deterrent is, of course, enough Police actively patrolling. Many residents have noted a more active police presence, so possibly our new Chief has directed more active patrolling.

    Adding another officer full-time requires about 3.5 FTE. Why not put on another officer only during the hours when crime occurs most and in the high crime density lower Piedmont area. This may require 1.5 to 2 FTE.

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