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Chula Vista Police presents report addressing concerns over license plate readers

Posted at 12:23 AM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 09:17:19-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - The Chula Vista Police Department's automated license plate reader program (ALPR) is under the microscope.

On Tuesday, The police department presented a report to city leaders addressing community concerns on privacy and best practices. It follows concerns raised by the community in December when reports surfaced that the police department was sharing data from its ALPR program with some federal immigration agencies through a third-party systems provider.

Police say they were unaware of it and immediately stopped the sharing of data to those agencies.

Police addressed some of those safeguards during Tuesday's presentation.

"We can choose the scope of that sharing anyway shape or form that makes sense to us as a result of December 8 (when) council directed to stop sharing with ICE and Border Patrol as a result of those concerns," Capt. Eric Thunberg said during his presentation.

Police compiled a 15-page report focused on what type of data the license plate readers collect and what data it doesn't collect. It also focused on who was able to view the collected data.

Police say the system's data is secured. They also say the readers don't collect immigration data or even the faces of drivers in vehicles. They say the department has four readers that are put on police vehicles. They also say the license plate reader program is a valuable crime-fighting tool.

"Many Chula Vista residents have been demanding more technology to protect our community while others are asking for less, so it's really an opportunity for us to have that conversation," Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said.

Before the meeting, community groups stood together outside city hall, raising privacy concerns about the license plate reader program.

"The sheer amount of images collected in these ALPRs is really scary," Nicholas Paul told ABC 10News after the presentation. He was one of the speakers at the community event before the meeting.

The group said they wanted to see the end of the program, as well as a city ordinance protecting privacy rights from other technologies like drones. They also called for the formation of an oversight committee.

The community will have an opportunity to give its input on the ALPR program during a workshop scheduled for April 7.