Item 92 - License Plate Readers

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Steve Adler
Posts: 476
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:12 pm

Item 92 - License Plate Readers

Post by Steve Adler »


Thank you, Council Member Kelly for your leadership on and willingness to discuss edits to Item 92 to acquire license plate readers.

As this is a new funding request being made so close to the budget process, as discussed, I am asking that we consider voting on this as part of the forthcoming budget deliberations.

I am supportive of purchasing license plate readers as a budget item, provided we can also incorporate and utilize best practices to protect residents' privacy and protect against unintended bias or profiling. Some of these are already reflected in your proposal. Additional privacy protections can be found in model policies used in other cities, such as those attached here:

Model 1
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Model 2
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Model 3
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Further, any vendor the readers are purchased from should provide transparency, in partnership with APD, into what the system is set up to detect, the police department’s policy on its use, number of cameras, number of vehicles detected, data shared with other law enforcement agencies and how many searches officers have conducted using the system. Linked here is an example of a customizable "transparency portal":

Please confirm if you are amenable to taking Item 92 up in the budget process, and whether you might also consider a budget rider that asks staff to develop a comprehensive ALPR policy that incorporates community input and best practices for protecting privacy and protecting against bias.

Jose Chito Vela
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2022 8:16 am

Re: Item 92 - License Plate Readers

Post by Jose Chito Vela »


Thank you to CM Kelly for bringing this important item for our consideration. I am intrigued by the potential benefits of a license plate reader program as a force multiplier and to improve efficiency and response times. This technology also raises legitimate concerns about privacy, data security, improper surveillance of legal and constitutionally protected activity, and impact on immigrants and people with lower incomes. At the same time, there is value in having an objective and unbiased tool that can focus and limit investigations and reduce the need for potentially risky encounters between law enforcement and the public.

While license plate reader programs can play a useful role, I share Mayor Adler’s concerns about committing now to funding a program for the next fiscal year when our budget discussions are right around the corner. We are facing serious budget constraints, and there are many public safety priorities that must be balanced. We have also committed many times to addressing our personnel crisis and raising wages before considering new spending. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we must be able to explain not only why we are spending money on an item, but also why that item instead of others.

Furthermore, there are many potential implications that the public and we need to better understand, such as the practical details of how such systems work and what policies and best practices are used by other cities. We should have the opportunity to hear from vendors and engage the community. My understanding is that license plate readers have been part of our larger Reimagining Public Safety conversation and are intended to work together with other changes, which we have yet to discuss.

I join Mayor Adler in encouraging us to discuss this item as part of the budget, within the broader context of our city’s needs and resources.