Readers Delayed

Mike Lano    Councilmember Jim Oddie, left, and Mayor Trish Spencer, far right, had some informal conversations with residents regarding the proposed license plate readers at each roadway into and out of Alameda before the Feb. 6 Council meeting.

The City Council voted unanimously to table the motion to add 13 license plate readers throughout the city at its Feb. 6 meeting. 

Councilmembers, along with several residents who spoke at the meeting, were concerned with how the information obtained from the license-plate-recognition systems would be used and who will get to see the information captured. 

Under the proposed plan, all the cameras would send feedback to a database operated by Vigilant Solutions, a law enforcement intelligence database company in Livermore. However, Vigilant signed a contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency last month, according to reports. Vigilant has partnerships with law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The nature of the agreement between ICE and Vigilant has not been made public.

Last year, the Council declared Alameda a Sanctuary City that would not assist ICE in apprehending undocumented immigrants who had not committed violent crimes. Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri assured those attending the meeting that ICE would not have access to the information gathered from the license plate recognition systems. Nonetheless, the Council decided to have City Manager Jill Keimach put out a request for proposals to other database companies including one from Vigilant. Councilmembers said they would seek out vendors with high security protocols.

The Council also voted unanimously to allocate $500,000 from the General Fund to the Technology Replacement Fund, with the intentions these funds will be used to purchase the license-plate readers. 

The 13 license-plate-recognition systems would be installed on Harbor Bay Parkway at Doolittle Drive and Ron Cowan Parkway, the Park Street, Fruitvale and High Street bridges and the Webster and Posey Tubes. The police department has used a license plate readers on four patrol cars since 2014.

Rolleri hoped that such devices will decrease the number of property crimes and grand thefts, which rose in 2017, according to the Alameda Police Department annual crime report.