Atherton to host study session on license plate readers, security cameras


In response to a rash of residential burglaries that plagued Atherton late last year and earlier this year, town staff is in the final stages of researching the impacts of installing license plate readers and security cameras around town, according to Atherton Police Cmdr. Joe Wade.

At an Oct. 2 town study session, police will review to the City Council the advantages and disadvantages of different types of license plate reader and security camera systems. They will also recommend locations for camera placement in town and provide information about other communities that currently have (and don't have) these systems, Wade said in an email.

The discussion will also include a review of the town's current resident security camera registration program and the level of resident participation.

If the town purchases security cameras, staff would look to place them on the periphery of town, Wade said. Specifically, they would be located at entrances and exits into and out of town such as Atherton Avenue/Alameda de las Pulgas; Alameda de las Pulgas/Stockbridge Avenue/Middlefield Road/Marsh Road; and Middlefield Road/Ringwood Avenue.

During a March 20 meeting, the council voted 4-0, with Elizabeth Lewis absent, to direct staff to research installing license plate readers and safety cameras around town, working with the police department to identify safeguards to ensure that there aren't information leaks from the reader databases if the devices are installed.

It also asked staff to identify security and privacy concerns and how they might be addressed, and to determine the cost of the devices and where they could be installed.

The meeting takes place in Holbrook-Palmer Park's Jennings Pavilion, 150 Watkins Ave. in Atherton, at 4 p.m. on Oct. 2.


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2 people like this
Posted by George Rodericks
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 25, 2019 at 11:30 am

George Rodericks is a registered user.

For clarification, the October 2 Study Session discussion represents the early stages of investigation (not the final stages) of the use and opportunity of ALPRs and Public Safety Cameras beyond the complement the Town already has in use. There are public safety cameras at Holbrook-Palmer Park and new police vehicles are equipped with ALPR cameras as part of their existing dashboard cameras; but, the Town does not have public safety or ALPR cameras fixed as stationary cameras at entry points into the Town.

Residents are encouraged to register their private security cameras with the Police Department so that in the event of an incident, officers know where security cameras are placed throughout the community and can use them forensically to assist in any investigation.

The Town encourages public engagement on this issue and encourages the public to attend the October 2 Study Session to provide feedback as the Town investigates these options.


George Rodericks
City Manager

Like this comment
Posted by Ben Franklin
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:15 pm

I've heard that ALPR's don't even function much of the time. What a waste of money and time.

I see PV still has burglaries. I imagine the crooks (those from out of town) have figured a variety of ways around the readers (false/stolen plates, those plastic plate deflectors and sprays available online, using alternate entry points, etc..)

What will the data policy be?

2 people like this
Posted by Confused
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:26 pm

We have a police department We pay A LOT of money for it, most of the town's budget, last time I checked.

Are the officers on regular patrol during the day and evening to prevent crime? That's going to deter this a lot more than a license plate reader that might (or probably will) result in privacy violations against the taxpayers.

However, last time I checked, we're going to be borrowing $10M (without asking residents) to build very large and fancy offices for the police department, which seems contrary to them being out patrolling the streets.

Can someone clear up this confusion? Or is this just too much common sense and not enough politics for the people running the town to get their arms around?

4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 26, 2019 at 10:21 am

@Ben Franklin @Confused

You guys have great questions. Be sure to attend the October 2 study session to get answers to them. If you can't attend, email the city manager. I'm sure he will follow up.

Like this comment
Posted by Petrr
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 1, 2019 at 4:58 pm

Wot a waste of money.

Like this comment
Posted by Nothing to see here
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 2, 2019 at 1:34 pm

A few license plate readers here, a few cameras there, some police drones floating overhead. I'm sure glad Big Brother is looking out for my safety.

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