May 16 2013

OPINION: License Plate Readers Not the Right Tool to Prevent Crime

Resident Urges City Council to Consider A Police Patrol in High Crime Areas –

The following is an open letter to the Piedmont City Council.

Dear City Council,

I. Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) are not a preventative law enforcement tool.  Chief Goede referred to ALPRs in a KRON-TV interview: “Its not a crime prevention tool, its more of an investigative tool on the back end.” Additionally, Chief Goede was candid at the Piedmont Safety Committee meeting that there have been no studies showing a correlation between the implementation of ALPRs and a reduction in crime.

Preventative enforcement tools stop crime before it occurs.  I doubt criminal offenders track which cities have a high conviction rate. Criminals likely do not know they are in Piedmont; they are more aware of the apparently higher value “pickings.”

So implementing ALPRs, while a “feel-good” response to the abhorrent home invasions that occurred recently in town, is at best only a peripheral deterrent tool that may aid in a higher conviction rate at a significant financial cost.

II. Emphasis and resources should be allocated to what prevents crime before it occurs.  More police patrolling and current officers patrolling more vigorously are preventative measures. Council is to be commended for authorizing forward Police hiring and generally there is a perception that the Piedmont Police Department is patrolling more vigorously. Instead of using the funds for the ALPR, put another patrol officer on where crime is most concentrated.

Baja Piedmont has taken the lead in organizing neighborhood watch groups; hopefully the rest of Piedmont will follow in organizing neighborhood watches. Neighborhood Watch Groups can be uniquely effective given the relatively homogeneous nature of Piedmont’s populace; neighbors know neighbors.

III. Other troubling issues with the ALPR process.
A single company was contacted who then became the ad hoc consultant creating the specifications and then bid on their plan. This is not a robust Request for Proposals (RFP) process.  The company chosen does not have a guaranteed camera percentage read rate. Because the Digital Age has reduced privacy expectations, we must be ever more vigilant in protecting our Constitutional Rights. 
The City intends Policy to be that protection; many instances of failed Policy in Piedmont (the  Piedmont Hills Underground Utility District (PHUUD) debacle, the Crest Road gifting of the sewer fund, withheld reports on Blair Park and signed reimbursement agreements with Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO) not being enforced) suggest that Policy may again fail residents with misuse of ALPR information.

IV. Spend taxpayer money on what is directly preventative, more Police patrols and active involvement with neighborhood watch groups.

Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

One Response to “OPINION: License Plate Readers Not the Right Tool to Prevent Crime”

  1. “Instead of using the funds for the ALPR, put another patrol officer on where crime is most concentrated.”

    Also police scheduling should be modified to permit more hours of patrolling without massive increase of overtime costs.

Leave a Comment