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Atherton: Council approves installing 16 new license plate readers

Original post made on May 8, 2020

Atherton will pursue private bonds for funding its new civic center, and the City Council approved purchasing license plate readers at a May 6 meeting.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 8, 2020, 3:22 PM

Comments (22)

Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Welcome to 1984 or should we say the paranoid police state. I take it the readers won't be installed on ECR. They shouldn't be installed on Valparaiso as that will be hundreds of vehicles a day who are not entering Atherton. Same goes for the Alameda. If so the town could be in for some major lawsuits.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 8, 2020 at 7:52 pm

whatever:

what kind of lawsuits? No one has any expectation of privacy while in public.


Posted by Whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2020 at 8:08 pm

Menlo voter
Atherton is doing this to track people coming into Atherton. However by capturing those plates not going into Atherton they are going beyond their jurisdiction and council justification. Check people sue for everything and Atherton will have to pay for defending cases that arise.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 8, 2020 at 8:13 pm

As Menlo Voter states an individual operating a vehicle with legally required license plates has ZERO legal expectations of privacy.

Ask FasTrak which routinely monitors every vehicle going through its toll booths and then sends bills to anyone who is not registered in their toll system. No one has every successfully sued FasTrak.


Posted by Liability
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 8, 2020 at 8:36 pm

But what's going to happen when someone on the APD abuses the information collected?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 8, 2020 at 8:40 pm

APD has long had access to confidential DMV information and has always behaved in a responsible manner.

Why do you assume that APD won't act responsibly?

When did you stop speeding and running stop signs?


Posted by Liability
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 8, 2020 at 11:27 pm

You are assuming my comment meant the APD would abuse this information more so than any other group of human beings.

"APD has long had access to confidential DMV information and has always behaved in a responsible manner."

A search of Almanac back issues will show you this – unfortunately – is far from the case. Just one example was running criminal background checks for guys Councilwoman Didi Fisher's daughter was dating (there was an Almanac article about this one). Coincidentally, she was a big APD supporter, right up to making sure Taj Mahal got built (and then leaving town).

Another Atherton cop used the DMV database to look up a guy his ex was dating (late 90s, and the Almanac wrote up this one also). There are other examples, including but not limited to ones I'm sure were never caught and written about.


Posted by good cop, bad cop
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2020 at 8:57 am

> and has always behaved in a responsible manner

Ya wanna amend that?


Posted by NotDumb
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on May 9, 2020 at 5:50 pm

The private company demanding ongoing fees for these cameras maintains the database and can and will have lousy security. Because they're not liable for any loss. Assume these cameras are public. Everything they record will be indexed and fully available to anyone with a little knowlwdge of where to look... no matter what they claim. PIs and Stalkers love places who install these. As do serious criminals instead of the moronic burglary types.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 9, 2020 at 7:26 pm

I will gladly trust Chief McCulley to ensure the integrity of the LPR sustem.


Posted by Whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2020 at 8:09 pm

"gladly trust chief to ensure integrity of the LPR system"

Well it's hard to imagine the chief doing worse than Trump ensuring the integrity of the Covid 19 pandemic response.


Posted by Robert Conin
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 11, 2020 at 12:26 pm

How will Atherton keep tabs on the criminal bicycle element? They don't have license plates.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 11, 2020 at 1:22 pm

Given the small number of criminal activities committed in Atherton by bicyclists this is not a problem.


Posted by Bob
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on May 11, 2020 at 3:03 pm

FYI: Portola Valley has had these for over two years and has had, to my knowledge, no complaints nor any sign of abuse.


Posted by Jeff Healy
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 11, 2020 at 3:31 pm

People, forget about any expectation of privacy in public locations. There are security cameras everywhere, including hundreds installed by Atherton residents. Most are high definition and can be used to read license plates and identity pedestrians if the cameras are facing the street. The APD is working to protect residents, not spy on them or those driving through town. I’m glad they are doing this, and I have zero worry about my tax dollars being used to defend lawsuits from people who don’t like license plate readers.


Posted by RanchGal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 11, 2020 at 4:43 pm

Bring on the cameras. Should have had them years ago. Even if it’s just a deterrent.


Posted by good cop, bad cop
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 11, 2020 at 5:45 pm

> Portola Valley has had these for over two years and has had, to my knowledge, no complaints nor any sign of abuse.

Nor any documented success. Have they released 'down time' statistics or any other measurable data?


Posted by Portola Valley's Experience
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 11, 2020 at 9:47 pm

@good cop

Here's PV's burglary crime stats for the last 10 years.

Web Link

2019 - 7 burglaries
2018 - 11
2017 - 7
2016 - 18
2015 - 9
2014 - 29
2013 - 33
2012 - 9
2011 - 14
2010 - 16

PV's cameras came online in early 2018.

2 of the 18 burglaries in 2016 were armed home invasions, which was the major reason PV pursued ALPRs. Since then, there have been no armed home invasions.

2018 and 2019 marked the lowest 2 year total for burglaries in the last 10 years.


Posted by good cop, bad cop
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 12, 2020 at 6:37 am

Kudos to PV for putting all their info in one place (Atherton doesn't, at least as I can find.)

Looking at PV in 2016, seems they could have parked a cruiser on 2 blocks and cut the incidents by a third (Golden Oak and Portola.)

I can't find the stats, but Atherton has seen a similar rate, over ten years, with the one 'rash' noted above. I'll look later.


Posted by Citizen Data
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 12, 2020 at 7:48 am

Citizen RIMS:

A link off of the Town's main website - Web Link


Posted by Liability
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 12, 2020 at 10:45 am

Jeff Healy says "The APD is working to protect residents, not spy on them or those driving through town."

I agree. I don't think this is a plot by the APD to spy on residents or misuse the cameras. Whether or not they prove effective, I believe the intention is to reduce crime.

Regarding the potential to abuse the cameras, which has historical basis to be realized, there was one simple fix that could have accompanied the policy that would have vastly reduced this possibility: complaints about how the police department or individual officers use this information would go to directly to the city council or a citizen sub-committee rather than be self-adjudicated by the police department itself.

This has come up before, in the more general sense of oversight of police complaints, and led to a frenzy of accusations by the police and their supporters of wrongfully placed mistrust, anti police sentiments, hobbling the department's ability to fight crime, etc. That's all ridiculous. Checks/balances/oversight is a good (and in fact essential) thing for any group, especially one entrusted to deal with the public, and can only strengthen the performance of that institution as well as the service the public receives.

Because the town council has refused to consider this for the police department, these complaints and fears will continue to be bubbling at the surface.


Posted by Tecsi
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2020 at 11:28 am

A couple questions:
- how will this system address stolen car or stolen plates? Will it determine in real-time stolen status and then immediately apprehend the car?
- similar to above, how will these cameras handle covered over license plates, either with “new car” plates, or with fake license numbers? This seems like a fairly easy, quick thing for burglars to implement. So plates would need to be connected to car year/model and any disparities immediately initiating an apprehension.

Absent solutions for these two issues, i wonder it if will be effective.


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