May 162020
 

According to a $60,000 grant the Novato Police Department recently received from the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative, new automated license plate readers (ALPRs) will be installed on Highway 37 to track terrorists.

However, no suspected terrorists have been tracked or identified with Novato’s existing ALPRs, which have been in use since 2012. We asked Novato City Manager Adam McGill for information on how many suspected terrorists had been detected or tracked with Novato’s existing ALPRs. McGill forwarded the request to Novato Police Lieutenant Christopher Jacob, who responded, “According to our records, we have not detected any hot plates related to or associated with terrorism.”

The grant application, filed in September 2019, claims that “License plates captured and identified by ALPR can alert authorities to wanted vehicles associated with suspected terrorists…”

“This project will install a 4 camera ALPR system on a preexisting CalTrans traffic operations pole located along the southern edge of US Hwy 37. This route connects US Hwy 101 to US Hwy 80 and serves as the primary route of travel into and between Marin, Sonoma and Solano counties. This location, according to recent CalTrans vehicle census information, has the potential of capturing and identifying no less than 12.7 million license plates a year.”

According to the FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget and the 2016 Novato Police Annual Report, the existing ALPRs captured 1,195,272 images of vehicles and license plates in 2015 and 1,204,854 in 2016. With an estimated 2018 population of 55,655, that’s more than 26 license plate reads each year for each Novato resident. With an additional 12.7 million license plate reads per year, that would increase to more than 249 license plate reader each year per Novato resident. According to the Novato Police Department policy for ALPRs, the data collected is stored for a minimum of one year.

The 2012 Novato Police Annual Report states that the department received a $20,000 Homeland Security grant for mobile ALPRs to “identify, track and report wanted terrorist suspects and locate other wanted suspects identified by the Department of Justice.” ALPRs were installed on five police vehicles in 2012 and by 2014, an additional police vehicle had ALPRs installed. A mobile ALPR trailer funded by a $36,583.75 grant from the California State Homeland Security Grant Program was added in 2014.

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Apr 232020
 
San Leandro Punts on Plan for More Surveillance Cameras - for now

On April 21, 2020, the San Leandro City Council was scheduled to consider installing 10 surveillance cameras in areas recommended by the police department. However, the agenda item came the day after San Leandro police shot and killed Steve Taylor at a local Walmart. Publicity surrounding the shooting, including cell phone video from a bystander, led to outrage that may have caused city staff to pull the item off of the agenda. There are already 12 surveillance cameras installed around the city that were originally used for traffic monitoring, but were converted to surveillance cameras and have been used since […]

Mar 302020
 
Vallejo Cites Ferry Terrorism to Get $30,000 Grant for License Plate Readers

The Vallejo Police Department cited ferry terrorism as part of its $30,000 grant application for license plate readers, calling the ferry “a viable threat for a terrorist act.” According to the grant application, the “Grant Funds will be utilized to establish an ALPR [Automated License Plate Reader] camera system for eastbound and westbound traffic lanes approaching the Ferry Terminal, Ferry Terminal Parking Structure and waterfront.” The Vallejo Police Department already has a network of license plate readers in locations around the city. Two of Vallejo’s ALPRs can be found on a pole on the west side of Glen Cove Road, […]

Mar 212020
 
Vallejo to Spend $766,018 for Cell Site Simulator

On the consent agenda for the March 24, 2020, Vallejo City Council meeting is $766,018 to purchase a KeyW cell site simulator. If approved, Vallejo Police would become the fourth local Bay Area law enforcement agency with this device, after the San Francisco Police Department, San Jose Police Department, and the Alameda County District Attorney (which shares its device with the Oakland Police Department and Fremont Police Department). These other agencies own cell site simulators manufactured by Harris Corporation. The agenda item includes implementation of a usage and privacy policy, but no policy was provided as part of the background […]

Aug 142019
 
Alameda County Sheriff to Get New Cell Phone Unlocking Tool

Although the Alameda County Sheriff already had a Cellebrite cell phone extraction device it purchased in 2018 for more than $200,000, the Sheriff was recently awarded $30,000 to acquire GrayKey, which has similar functionality. The Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Program grant is funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant requires that the money be spent by December 31, 2019. Acceptance of the grant was approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on July 9, 2019. The grant lists $30,000 for the “GrayKey Forensic Encryption […]

Jun 112019
 
Local Fusion Center Collecting 80 Million License Plate Records Annually

According to information released in response to a public records request, the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center collected more than 79.2 million license plate reader records from 32 local law enforcement agencies from June 2018 to May 2019. Piedmont, a city with about 11,000 people, sent the most data to NCRIC, with more than 22.4 million license plate reader records, which include license plate numbers and photographs of vehicles and their surroundings. Piedmont has more than 30 stationary license plate readers that capture nearly all traffic coming into and out of Piedmont. In calendar year 2018, Piedmont collected 21.6 million […]

Mar 172019
 
California Police Training Videos

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Aug 042018
 

Many protesters observed the use of multiple drones at the West Contra Costa County Detention Center on June 30, 2018, during a protest against ICE and its practice of family separation. Journalist Darwin BondGraham wrote about this in an East Bay Express article on July 3, 2018. Documents released in response to a public records request indicated that the drone was also flown over the June 26, 2018, protest at the same facility. The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s drone (or unmanned aerial vehicle/system) program was started in 2016. The agency purchased its first drone on September 7, 2016, a DJI […]

Jul 092018
 
Alameda County District Attorney Has Cell Phone Unlocking Tool

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Jun 102018
 
Fremont: 14.5 million vehicles scanned in 11 months

According to data from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), the city of Fremont collected 14.5 million license plates and photos from license plate readers located throughout the city from December 2016 to October 2017. The installation of stationary license plate readers was approved by the Fremont City Council on July 14, 2015, without any public comment or discussion during the meeting. Of the 28 jurisdictions sending license plate reader data to NCRIC, Fremont collects the third-highest amount of data, behind Vallejo (21.7 million) and Piedmont (21.3 million). NCRIC is a regional fusion center that provides a license plate […]