Source: California Public Records Act request, August 9, 2017. Response received September 7, 2017.
According to documents from the California Highway Patrol (CHP), it has purchased 216 Vigilant Video license plate readers between June 2011 and April 2015. In addition, an undated document on automated license plate reader statistics indicates that there were 86,899 alerts for 27,545,659 license plate reads, a hit percentage of 0.3%. In other words, 99.7% of the data gathered by the CHP’s license plate readers was essentially mass surveillance on people not suspected of or charged with a crime.
The license plate readers were purchased using homeland security funds in batches of 120 on June 30, 2011, 73 on February 13, 2012, and 23 on March 9, 2012. The bid specifications are dated June 27, 2011, and the contract was from February 6, 2012, to February 5, 2015. The total cost of the license plate readers was just over $2 million ($2,050,644.01).
Section 2413(b) of the California Vehicle Code states, “The Department of the California Highway Patrol may retain license plate data captured by a license plate reader (LPR) for no more than 60 days, except in circumstances when the data is being used as evidence or for all felonies being investigated, including, but not limited to, auto theft, homicides, kidnaping, burglaries, elder and juvenile abductions, Amber Alerts, and Blue Alerts.”
Here are some photos of the Vigilant Video license plate readers mounted on a CHP Ford Explorer:
- Undated license plate statistics
- Purchase order for 120 Vigilant Video license plate readers – June 30, 2011
- Vigilant Video invoice for 120 license plate readers – December 29, 2011
- Bid specifications (June 27, 2011) and contract for license plate readers – February 6, 2012
- Purchase order for 73 Vigilant Video license plate readers – February 13, 2012
- Purchase order for 23 Vigilant Video license plate readers – March 9, 2012
- Vigilant Video invoice for 73 license plate readers – March 14, 2012
- Vigilant Video packing slip for 23 license plate readers – March 29, 2012