Council Approves Automated License Plate Reader Policy

Georgia Department of Transportation--Alameda City Council approved the APD policy regarding their use and data retention of fixed automated license plate readers. ALPRs, like the one above, are computer-controlled camera systems that capture images..

Council Approves Automated License Plate Reader Policy

The City Council unanimously approved Alameda Police Department’s (APD) fixed automated license plate reader (ALPR) draft policy at its April 5 meeting.

“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. “The primary intended use of the technology is to collect license plate numbers to assist in the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of criminal offenders.”

Joshi told the council ALPRs will help the department reduce their policing footprint by focusing investigations on specific vehicles.

In the APD policy, once an alert is received, the operator must confirm that the observed license plate from the system matches the license plate, state of issue and description of the observed vehicle. The policy previously stated the operator “should” confirm, but the council asked for it to be changed to “must confirm.”

The other change in the policy from APD’s original draft proposal was the reduction of ALPR data retention from 90 days to 60 days. Most residents expressed they wanted the data retention period reduced further during the public comment portion of the discussion.

“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. “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.”

Another speaker, Marilyn Rothman, echoed Jeschke’s comments. “Data retention should be reduced to less than 30 days. There’s no reason to keep it. Auditing should be done every 30 days and there should be oversight on this,” she said.

APD will audit its ALPR system and retention policies for compliance after 12 months.

A number of ALPRs will be located at the city’s entry and exit points. Each ALPR will collect images, or footage, of vehicles' rear license plate. The images will be stored with the online service,, until the 60-day limit. is operated by Axon Enterprise, Inc., a company that develops technology and weapons products for military, law enforcement and civilians. However, APD will own their ALPR system and all data collected.

Joshi said the long-term cost of the ALPR system will cost the city $77,000 to $154,000 per year, depending on how many cameras will be at each location. Joshi wants at least two ALPRs at 13 or 14 different locations.

APD personnel may only access and use the ALPR system for official and legitimate law enforcement purposes consistent with the policy, said Joshi. Access will require supervisor approval. All authorized users will undergo specific training and must complete a policy attestation that they must adhere to.

The Bureau of Support Services Captain Matt McMullen will be the ALPR administrator. He will be responsible for overseeing the training, security of information, system access, custody and destruction of data and posting of APD’s ALPR policy.

Fixed ALPRs are installed in a designated location, such as a traffic light, a telephone pole, the entrance of a facility, or a freeway exit ramp. The system issues an alert when one of the cameras reads the license plate of a vehicle is in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) or other law enforcement database.

City Council approved the use of fixed ALPRs at the city’s entry and exit points in a 3-2 vote at its Feb. 1 meeting. Vice Mayor Malia Vella and Councilmember John Knox White voted against the plan. Council decided to only allow the use of ALPRs to capture the rear license plate of a vehicle.