Nov 222017
 

The Center for Human Rights and Privacy recently discovered that the Alameda County Sheriff installed a license plate reader at the entrance to Highland Hospital’s emergency room. The information was included in a list of 29 agencies that submit license plate reader to the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), a local joint fusion center.

However, when the East Bay Times asked about its license plate readers in February 2017, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office reported that it had about six license plate readers, mounted to patrol cars and didn’t mention the license plate reader at Highland Hospital.

The license plate reader has two cameras to capture images of vehicles and license plates as vehicles enter the emergency room drop-off area of Highland Hospital from E. 31st Street.

According to information from NCRIC, the license plate reader captured data from 293,148 vehicles from December 2016 to October 2017. Earlier data was not available. Once the information is submitted to NCRIC, it is made available to dozens of agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which can use it to identify undocumented immigrants for deportation.

The license plate reader was installed as part of a project to replace the Acute Tower at Highland Hospital in 2014. According to a change order for the project, installation of the license plate reader cost $74,622. The license plate reader is from 3M and was previously known as the SpikeHD P382.

In addition to the photos below, the license plate reader can be seen in Google’s Street View.

Alameda Co. Sheriff license plate reader at Highland Hospital

 

Closeup of Alameda Co Sheriff license plate reader at Highland Hospital in Oakland

Coverage in the East Bay Express: Highland Hospital Surveillance Stirs Concerns

Sep 052016
 

Half of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office’s 10 surveillance cameras have been installed on private property, including gas stations, a liquor store, and a pharmacy. The cameras are directed toward the street and intersections and do not appear to be intended to provide surveillance of the private property where they are installed.

The first two surveillance cameras were installed on the Walgreens building located at 15850 E 14th Street in unincorporated San Leandro. Five more surveillance cameras were installed later in 2007, including one overlooking the Lighthouse Worship Center, one at a 7-11, and one between two houses on Elgin Way. In 2015, surveillance cameras were installed at a 76 gas station in San Lorenzo, a Chevron station in Castro Valley, and Hank’s Liquor in Hayward.

The first two surveillance cameras were purchased with asset forfeiture funds in 2006 or 2007. In a September 15, 2006, memo from Lt. Brian Ballard to Alameda County Sheriff Charles Plummer, Ballard wrote, “Covert surveillance cameras can be deployed in the community to monitor high crime areas and aid in the apprehension and capture of criminals. Up to eight units may be deployed throughout the Law Enforcement Services Division based on need. Estimated unit cost is approximately $20,000 each for the Deluxe Model with an upgraded storage capacity to forty eight hours. Total cost for eight units is $160,000.” Despite the mention of eight surveillance cameras, it appears that only two were installed using the asset forfeiture funds.

A November 20, 2006 letter from Sheriff Plummer to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors stated, “One item is a covert surveillance camera that can be deployed ‘in the community to monitor high crime areas and aid in the apprehension and capture of criminals. A well planned and placed surveillance system can help stop criminals in their tracks.”

Debbie Schenkhuizen of Walgreens approved the installation of the two surveillance cameras in an email dated August 13, 2007 to Sgt. Joe Bricker of the Eden Township Substation of the Alameda County Sheriff’s office with the subject “E 14th Street Camera Project” stating, “This proposal sounds good and I have been given the green light to move forward with you on this.”

Five more cameras were installed in 2007.

In early 2014, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office discovered that five of the seven cameras were not working. Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Gaitan wrote in a Nov. 13, 2014 memo, “The current system was installed approximately ten years ago and current has NO technical support.” All seven cameras were replaced by Axis Q6044-E PTZ 720p cameras with 30x optical zoom at a cost of $66,483.23.

According to an October 7, 2015, email from Lt. Michael Toms to Assistant Sheriff Brett Keteles, “There are signs placed at all locations notifying the public that they are entering an area with surveillance cameras. The cameras record but aren’t monitored. Typically when something happens we review the recording at a later time. If a supervisor is at ETS they have the ability to access the cameras to watch a live view of activity being recorded. Access is password protected. The recordings are kept for seven (7) days and then are self-purged by the system. If we want to keep a recoding [sic] we have to transfer it to a DVD.” No signs notifying the public about video surveillance were observed at any of the surveillance camera locations.

The three most recent surveillance cameras are also Axis Q6044-E PTZ 720p cameras with 30x optical zoom. They were purchased from Tactical Video of Naperville, Illinois, in November 2015 for $28,379.23 as part of a no-bid sole source contract. Tactical Video’s tagline on its website is “Poweful Video Surveillance Systems.”

Three of the cameras captured portions of the Alameda County Sheriff’s pursuit of Stanislav Petrov from a Castro Valley motel to a San Francisco alley in November 2015.

When asked for a copy of any policies for video surveillance, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office provided General Order 5.24, entitled “Collection, Preservation of Evidence/Property, Processing, Storage and Inspection.” The policy refers to videotapes and labeling of video cassettes, but does not mention digital video recording or retention of video recordings that are not evidence.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office recently released an image from one of the surveillance cameras installed at Walgreens at 15850 E. 14th Avenue:

Credit: Alameda County Sheriff's Office Surveillance image of a Jeep Grand Cherokee authorities say may be connected to shootings of people in San Leandro with a pellet gun.

Credit: Alameda County Sheriff’s Office surveillance camera

Locations of the 10 surveillance cameras operated by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office:

159th Avenue near E. 14th (Walgreens), San Leandro

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15850 E. 14th Avenue near 159th Avenue (Walgreens), San Leandro

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NW corner of Coelho Drive and Mooney Avenue, San Lorenzo

coehlo1_small Alameda County Sheriff surveillance camera at Coehlo and Mooney

16058 Ashland Avenue, San Lorenzo

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16320 Elgin Way (near Ashland Avenue), San Lorenzo

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159th Avenue and Liberty Avenue, San Leandro

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A Street and Princeton Street, Hayward

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18501 Hesperian Boulevard at Bockman Road (76 gas station), San Lorenzo

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19989 Meekland Avenue at Blossom Way (Hank’s Liquor), Hayward

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3495 Castro Valley Boulevard at Redwood Road (Chevron gas station), Castro Valley

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Mar 232016
 

Documents show all 11 police officers at the scene “forgot” to activate their body cameras

On November 12, 2015, two Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies were captured on surveillance video beating a suspect in San Francisco. The video was provided to the San Francisco Public Defender, which published the video on YouTube on November 13, 2015:

The two deputies shown in the video, Paul Wieber, and Luis Santamaria, wrote up their descriptions of the incident four days after arresting the suspect, later identified as Stanislav Petrov. Other deputies, including Shawn Osborne, William Adams, John Malizia, Joshua Miller, Marc PetriniThomas Sterling, and David Taylor, wrote up their incident reports on the same day.

On November 16, 2015, I filed a request for the arrest report, booking photograph and any body camera video from the arrest. In a response dated November 19, 2015, the Alameda County Sheriff denied my request, stating “Your request is denied per California Government Code sections 6254(f).” On February 15, 2016, I filed a second request for the booking photograph and incident report. In its response dated March 18, 2016, the Alameda County County Sheriff’s Office provided the incident report, but not a booking photograph.

In his write-up, Wieber states that after he tackled Petrov, “Petrov used his arms and shoulders to attempt to push himself up from the ground. I felt my entire body rise and I continued to slide forward. Failing to maintain control of Petrov, I punched him approximately two times in the right side of his face to subdue him.” The video, however, appears to show Petrov in a passive and prone position, with Wieber punching him twice, quickly followed by Santamaria striking Petrov at least five times with a baton.

Other deputies corroborated the story line that Petrov resisted arrest. Matthew Skidgel’s report states “Petrov resisted the efforts put forth by the patrol Deputies to affect his arrest and force was used to overcome his resistance.” Joshua Miller’s report stated that he saw “…Deputies SantaMaria and Wieber fighting with Petrov as he was violently pushing his body from side to side and moving his arms around as though he was trying to hit the officers.” Miller also struck Petrov with his baton. David Taylor’s report noted, “Petrov was bleeding from his head and he complained of pain to his head and hands.” There were no other observations of Petrov’s injuries. More than a week after his arrest, Petrov remained in the hospital and had metal rods and plates inserted into his arms.

Santamaria’s description of the incident closely mirrors that of Wieber, “As Deputy Wieber stood up, Petrov started to get up. Fearing that Petrov was going to assault Deputy Wieber, I removed my collapsible baton. I struck Petrov several times on his upper left arm to gain his compliance.” The description concludes, “As the Deputies arrived I was so fatigued I stepped away and let them secure Petrov. After the encounter I was exhausted and dizzy. I felt as if I were going to vomit from overexerting myself during the struggle with Petrov. As a result of the altercation I sustained an injury to my left exterior bicep.”

Wieber describes his own physical condition using nearly the same language as Santamaria, “I was physically exhausted and began to feel dizzy from over exertion.”

As a result of injuries caused by baton blows and punches, Petrov was transported to San Francisco General Hospital and surgery was performed. In his report, Darrin Shelton stated that Petrov was spitting blood, so he stepped on Petrov’s left shoulder blade to prevent him from spitting blood on any of the deputies. Shelton observed that Petrov had broken fingers on his left hand and head and facial lacerations. Robert Griffith noted, “Petrov appeared to have been bleeding from his head.”

Two of the other officers noted Petrov’s driving skills in their reports. Santamaria stated, “I noticed Petrov displaying driving skills and techniques that area [sic] taught to us in the police academy and during in-service training.” Taylor reported “As I observed the suspect’s vehicle during the pursuit, I was struck by his skillful driving and what I could only speculate was a level of extreme confidence and/or desperation…I believe the suspect was likely a sophisticated threat.”

None of the 11 deputies involved remembered to activate their Vievu body cameras:

I checked with Deputies Miller, Osborne, Griffith, Sterling, Petrini, Shelton, Malizia, Nguyen, Cota, Wieber and SantaMaria. I also checked with Sergeant Adams and Sergeant Taylor. None of these individuals had activated their Vie-Vu cameras during the incident.

Neither Wieber nor Santamaria noted any injuries to Petrov in their incident reports.

On February 12, 2016, the Contra Costa Times reported that the Alameda County District Attorney said that Petrov would not be charged.

Incident reports (Source documents):

Subsequent news coverage:
Document shows Alameda Co. Sheriff’s report on beating, KTVU
Alameda County sheriff’s deputies detail what led to chase, beating, Contra Costa Times
Adachi Accuses Deputies Allegedly Involved In Brutal Suspect Beating Of Cover Up, CBS SF
Deputies in SF beating video say they feared for their safety, SFGate
Public Defender: Deputies Involved in Beating Lied; Must Be Charged, SF Weekly
S.F. Public Defender: Alameda Deputies’ Reports on Violent S.F. Arrest a ‘Legal Fiction’

Edited to add: On May 10, 2016, Luis Santamaria and Paul Wieber were charged with assault under color of authority, battery with serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon.

News coverage of the charges:
Alameda County Deputies Face Criminal Charges in Suspect’s Beating, KQED
California deputies charged in beating captured on video, CBS News