APD Traffic Stop Leads to Illegal Firearm Recovery

Alameda Police Department -- The illegal ghost gun APD seized on July 4.
Alameda Police Department -- The illegal ghost gun APD seized on July 4.

APD Traffic Stop Leads to Illegal Firearm Recovery

On Tuesday, July 4, Alameda Police Department (APD) officers were alerted by a license plate reader notification of an outstanding felony vehicle near South Shore Shopping Center. Within minutes, officers located the driver who was attempting to park in the shopping center and initiated a traffic stop.

During the investigation, officers discovered a loaded firearm and additional rounds of ammunition. Officers learned it was actually a ghost gun. Ghost guns have no serial number and are untraceable firearms that can be bought online and assembled at home. They are often sold through “ghost gun kits,” which include all of the parts and often the equipment necessary to build these weapons at home.
As a result of the quick action taken by our officers, a ghost gun confiscated by police officers and a vehicle wanted in connection with an outside agency’s felony investigation was located.

The Alameda City Council voted to expand its automated license plate readers (ALPR) program in February of last year, (“https://alamedasun.com/news/alameda-expand-license-plate-readers-island-...” Feb. 10, 2022). The approval gave city staff and the Alameda Police Department (APD) the authority to mount fixed ALPRs at all Alameda entry and exit points. The plan was approved with a narrow 3-2 vote. Previously, APD placed ALPRs on select police vehicles.

Current councilmember Malia Vella and former councilmember John Knox-White voted against the measure. Many residents and organizations were also against the plan.

“I have never before had my privacy threatened,” said resident Marilyn Rothman at the council meeting on Feb. 1, 2022. “I am so alarmed and upset that this draconian measure is even being considered.”

One of the many sticking points that concerned residents was the amount of time vehicle information would be stored in the ALPR program administrator’s database. Information is stored for 60days.

“One of the major ALPR manufactures recommends data retention of 30 days or less,” said Alameda resident Rebecca Jeschke, managing director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy and free speech organization to the council at the April 5, 2022, meeting. “The state of New Hampshire recommends three minutes after capture. Albuquerque, New Mexico went with 14 days. I would like to see Alameda implement one of those shorter time frames.”

Nevertheless, the policy was approved to the delight of many in APD.

“The use of fixed automated license plate reader technology seeks to improve the safety and protection of the City of Alameda, its residents, visitors, and business owners,” said APD Police Chief Nishant Joshi during his policy presentation to the council at their April 5 meeting last year. “The primary intended use of the technology is to collect license plate numbers to assist in the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of criminal offenders.”

The name of the suspect was not released by APD.

Contact Sun staff at editor@alamedasun.com.