CCPD Holds Community Meeting on Automated License Plate Readers

On March 30, 2023, the Culver City Police Dept. held a community meeting at City Hall to offer information on the proposed ALPR – Automated License Plate Readers – that the police are seeking approval for. The department already has funds budgeted to purchase the system, a total of $150,000 that has been held over from last year’s budget.

Interim Chief of Police Jason Sims, who opened the meeting and gave a brief general overview, turned the meeting over to Lt. Andrew Bellante to offer specifics. As expected, the police focused on the benefits of the technology, and why they were seeking to install the system. 

“Over 70% of the crimes committed are associated with the use of a vehicle…thousands of law enforcement agencies already use this technology…ALPR has become an industry standard [to] detect, solve, prevent and deter crime.” The system is based on fixed cameras installed at an intersection that send license plate numbers to statewide databases such as National Crime Information Center and Wanted Persons System. “Facial recognition technology is not used, and the camera only takes a picture of the plate, not the driver or the passenger of the vehicle. “

Bellante also emphasized that CCPD would own the data, it would be deleted after 30 days, and that data would not be shared with Immigration Customs and Enforcement. 

When this request for technology was made in 2018, it was turned down on the idea that it was too intrusive, and would violate people’s right to privacy. 

When the time came for people to ask questions and offer comments the right to privacy was high on the list. A member of the audience asked “If people were to come to Culver City to access the right to reproductive health care, which is now illegal in 24 states, would CCPD be required to share the information? As an example, the state of Idaho has passed a law to prosecute anyone driving to another state to access health care, or help a woman access health care. Would the ALPR system be required to provide that information to another state?” 

Sims offered that these were legal issues that they had not considered.

Most of those present at the meeting were supportive of the technology being approved by the city. The police are planning to present the item on the May 8, 2023 City Council agenda. 

Judith Martin-Straw

Editor’s note – This was recorded as a WebEx call, and speakers from the audience were not identified by name

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