Town Square

Post a New Topic

San Ramon council to consider installing license plate readers and security cameras for police

Original post made on Apr 27, 2020

The San Ramon City Council will discuss equipping its city's streets with automated license plate readers and situational awareness cameras during its regular meeting on Tuesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 27, 2020, 1:24 PM

Comments (18)

Posted by AS
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 27, 2020 at 6:28 pm

The mayor should think about reducing property tax and reduce the manipulation by real estate agents. Mayor will be fired if he waste so much tax payers money.

Posted by The Dude
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 27, 2020 at 7:36 pm

The mayor does not assess property taxes. And the mayor cannot be fired. He can be voted out of office, but since he's in his last term, good luck with that.

PS there's no tax on grammar.

Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 28, 2020 at 6:30 am

Where in the Constitution does it say the government is allowed to monitor us. The whole point of this country was to get away from tyranny. I remember when this country lived with faith and hope and left their doors unlocked. Now we have brought up and installed fear into everyone teaching them to not trust anyone, when the ones we should not trust reside in power. People are inherently good, we are the ones whim teach them wrong. This will get no support from me.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 28, 2020 at 12:16 pm

I think it's a great idea. We need to support and equip our PD with the latest in surveillance equipment, to monitor unwanted threats from other parts of the Bay Area. That's the only way to protect our property and privacy from becoming another Oakland, San Francisco or San Jose. Wake up. It's coming if we don't act now!

Posted by Resident of San Ramon
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 28, 2020 at 1:17 pm

I think this is a good idea. If you read the crime reports, most of the crimes committed in San Ramon are committed by criminals coming here from other areas specifically to break into cars, houses, shoplift, etc. I'm sure we have a few homegrown criminals as well, but most "commute" here. Anything that helps catch or deter them is good for the safety of San Ramon.

Posted by Kjgamble
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 29, 2020 at 9:32 am

Oh jeez. Why not just install tracking devices in everyone at birth because that’s what’s this is leading to.

Posted by Peter Simple
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 29, 2020 at 2:29 pm

I've spent my career in Law Enforcement and this helps not only SRPD but agencies all over California solve crimes. If a stolen car is read by one of the cameras it alerts the police immediately. Serious criminals often steal cars or license plate to cover their tracks when they are going to commit more serious crimes so it can have a preventative effect. Partial license plate numbers given to the police by victims and witnesses can be searched. It's a powerful tool to catch criminals. I'm strongly in favor of it. I and police detectives I work with have located everything from vandals to rapists, murderers and child molesters using this database. It's a must have tool for our police department to solve crimes and keep us safe. Word gets out among crooks too and it can be a deterrent to some.

Posted by Cloudja
a resident of Danville
on Apr 29, 2020 at 5:28 pm

Spying is spying is spying. Then what?

Posted by 2BConsidered
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 29, 2020 at 6:25 pm

Those who do not want these LPRs in our community are either ignorant of their benefits, or these folks are doing something illegal and do not want to be caught.

Like a few others here, I have first hand knowledge this tool can be instrumental in helping law enforcement catch major criminals including sexual predators, robbers, murderers, gang crews of burglars, and other serious suspects. No joke. All true.

I would invite any city or law enforcement entity put one outside my house or anywhere my family works, plays, or go to school, please. I would feel safer. Law enforcement won't give a hoot what law abiding citizens do - and they are not looking for speeders or cell phone violations or people having affairs for crying out loud, they are using this tool to look for the real bad guys.

Those folks who talk about these tools infringing on people's freedoms are misinformed and/or paranoid, or maybe they have something to hide. If you seriously think that a sworn law enforcement official cares about, or has the time, or any reason, to review random cars driven by soccer mom/dad, or worker guy/gal, or commuter dude/dudette, or student person, or gardener/trades person, or "anyone at all" while they are legally doing what they do to live, go to school, and work in a community, then you really are ignorant and do not know how law enforcement works.

Please, my San Ramon neighbors - Support these tools for the safety of your kids, our elders, our businesses, and all our residents. Give SRPD a fantastic tool to fight crime.

Posted by Captain Obvious
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 30, 2020 at 8:07 am

It's not spying when you're in public.

Posted by FightForYourRights
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 30, 2020 at 5:12 pm

What is the privacy policy that will be adopted by the city around access to the data collected by these readers and cameras? Will there be legal recourse for citizens whose data is used in a manner that's not related to catching criminals and finding stolen cars? How long is the data kept around? If the readers will be used for detecting stolen cars, then there's no need to store any of the data, so is there a guarantee that the data collected will not be stored?

Will this be used for identifying citizens who gather at protests? Say, at the Chevron protest every year? Is the information going into a database of citizen activities?

For those saying they welcome cameras everywhere (2BConsidered says "I would invite any city or law enforcement entity put one outside my house or anywhere my family works, plays, or go to school, please."), would you put such a camera inside your house? In your bedroom? The police will look at it only if you do something wrong, so you won't have a problem with it, right?

If cameras everywhere makes you feel safe, then your assumption is that someone's always monitoring the feeds. No city police force has the manpower to be looking at all the cameras, so this will either get outsourced somewhere (and then it's no longer law enforcement who has access to the cameras), or get recorded for later review (after a crime has already been committed, and that shouldn't make you feel any safer).

Everyone would like tools that will make their jobs easier. Law enforcement is tough, and officers work hard to keep us safe. San Ramon doesn't have a crime problem that would make anyone feel scared of living here without cameras everywhere. Adding cameras everywhere is just another step toward taking away our civil liberties.

Posted by 2BConsidered
a resident of San Ramon
on May 2, 2020 at 7:27 am

FightForYour Rights,

With all due respect,

If your questions were sincere, please consider these experience-based perspectives.

Police agencies have strict policies and procedures on this data use, and not many would be willing to bet their career on using law enforcement data bases, for personal use. If they do, there could face serious agency recourse and there are ALWAYS legal recourse - as this is California.

The whole stolen car line of questioning can be answered this way...If your white Volvo is stolen and a camera catches it an hour later headed northbound which helps police in the next city like Danville or Walnut Creek to catch the crooks and recover your car, great. Camera use proved to work - thumbs up. But what if your car is stolen, but the crooks covered the plate or went a different route where local cameras do not catch it near your house while at the same time, years later an outside jurisdiction has still not solved a murder/kidnap using a car fitting your description but no plate. A third outside agency eventually finds your car burnt in a ditch miles away....More years pass and detectives learn from a witness hearsay info (which they can't use in court but it is another piece of the puzzle) of a kidnap/murder that the suspects of the white Volvo stopped and changed to a red car with a black top right before they torched your pretty white Volvo...wouldn't you want any detective to have the ability to use that historical camera data to piece together images of the path of travel of your poor Volvo's demise and identify that red car, any partial plates, possible occupants? With the visuals from ALPR, among other tools, investigators help recreate the path of travel and utilize this to develop evidence that CAN be used in court of the kidnap/murder years later.
And furthermore, (the factor that changes many minds) what if that person kidnapped or murdered was your loved one? I mean it. When you or someone close to you becomes a victim of a serious crime, you gain an immediate and visceral perspective. Law enforcement talks to those people affected by crimes all the time. Law enforcement also tries to speak for the victims who will never be able to talk back and tell them what they saw or what color the car was.

I know of a case where a politician bent because there was too much pressure from one overzealous group who felt having a particular camera pointing at the roadway infringed on peoples' rights. This high definition camera was subsequently pointed directly downward and virtually a waste of space. Afterward, a violent murder happened within what WOULD have been within camera view and the suspect vehicle was 'heard' leaving directly past that camera which was now useless pointing directly down at city equipment only. That camera would have easily captured the plate and likely images of the occupants inside. That was over 5 years ago and that murder is unsolved. Please, explain to that family about your or my rights.

When it comes to the protestors question, police protect your rights to protest - it is part of our constitution, thank God. Police do not want these things to come to violence, do not want people to get run over, and do not want civil unrest leading to violence... (all the above would lead to too much paperwork anyways and less donut time - I had to)

Your question of having cameras inside someone's house is not the issue, we are talking public places - although the imagery of me in my undies eating Trader Joes white cheddar cheese popcorn while watching American Idol might sound tantalizing, I am certain it would be of little evidentiary value, and not the slightest bit entertaining. If police want to come into my house, I will likely invite them in, and if I don't want them to come inside but they have probable cause that there is evidence of criminal activity inside, then they will come in anyways. (and I will likely put down the popcorn) Besides, if my kids or spouse has been tricking me all these years and is actually running a dope ring or something else nefarious, come on inside SRPD and clean house.

Cameras don't make me feel safe in isolation. My understanding is no one monitors live feeds, (although that can have a positive affect). ALPR cameras offer historical data - that history could be 5 minutes ago, and it could be 5 years ago. The deterrent for criminals is palpable as aptly described earlier. Why would any crook come to San Ramon to conduct their business when "they be cameras all over that place". Secondly, these cameras help law enforcement put folks in jail and they end up on probation or parole - when people are in jail or on probation or parole, guess what, we can more closely monitor their activities and less likely to rip me off without repercussions.

We are fortunate to have great cops working in our community. But any cop knows they need our help and most seasoned cops have spoken to many hard core criminals who have revealed to them repeatedly, if a house/neighborhood/community makes it more difficult for them to do their job of ripping you off or jeopardizing your safety those hard core criminals will simply choose to go to the next potential victim house/neighborhood/community. When members of a community do things like take a cell phone video of suspicious activity, and/or call it in, own a dog, own operable motion sensor lights, own monitored alarms, afford cops more tools, afford more cops for frequent patrols, and have strategic cameras placed around the city, then the word gets out on the street "watch out for that city boys - that place be too hot for business - Straight up".

Re: your comment - "Adding cameras everywhere is just another step toward taking away our civil liberties". - Hope you or your love ones do not become victims to serious crimes.

Those tears are more costly than the lost of my popcorn.


Posted by FightForYourRights
a resident of San Ramon
on May 2, 2020 at 7:09 pm

Responding to 2BConsidered:

> Police agencies have strict policies and procedures on this data use, and not many would be willing to bet their career on using law enforcement data bases, for personal use. If they do, there could face serious agency recourse and there are ALWAYS legal recourse - as this is California.

Please point to where these policies and procedures and access to due process for violations is documented. I'd like to review how San Ramon specifically adopts it. Many such systems require data collected to be processed by private companies. These systems form a foundation for future use that will vastly expand the scenarios in which the data collected by the system is accessed; what guarantee is there that there will no such expansion in scope in the future? Since the system is being considered by the city without a vote from the public, any change in usage policy can also be implemented without permission from the public.

I'll ask for a review of the design of the camera hardware (give me a sample and I'll publish a teardown), the software design, the network connections used, and anything else that can be a concern for security and privacy of the system. I'd like to see the credentials of the vendors supplying the system and how they secure access to the system.

> what if that person kidnapped or murdered was your loved one?

The statistical probability of something like the very convoluted example you gave happening is close to zero in a city like San Ramon (how many kidnappings and murders occurred in San Ramon last 10 years?). When you already have a low crime rate, any additional "deterrent" will not make a dent in the statistics. Your argument might have made more sense if the city was teeming with hardcore criminals, but that's not the case.

> "Why would any crook come to San Ramon to conduct their business when they be cameras all over that place".

And yet, there are plenty of cities with cameras all over the place and still have crime statistics worse than San Ramon. There is a threshold below which cameras stop acting as deterrents.

The city wants to spend more than a million dollars on this. Let's ask some questions to evaluate what we will get for this money: What are the current crime statistics that will be affected by this? How many car thefts will be prevented in the future (compared to current statistics) by the installation of this system? How many "violent murders" currently happen in the city (answer: 0) every year and by how much is the city claiming the camera system will reduce it by? Consider 2BConsidered's threat/concern for my personal safety: how much more safety than I currently enjoy would this new system guarantee?

Answers to such questions can help us make an informed decision on whether or not we allow this surveillance system in our city. It shouldn't be justified by playing on people's fears.

And finally:
> Hope you or your love ones do not become victims to serious crimes.

If you're threatening me or trying to appeal to my fears, know this: I've spent a considerable part of my life evaluating such questions. I'm unwilling to give up my civil liberties for personal safety. Many people have given up their lives in the history of this country to give us the rights and liberties we enjoy, and while I'm a coward compared to them, I will not dishonor their sacrifices by giving up those hard-fought freedoms over threats to my personal safety.

Stop living in fear.

Posted by 2BConsidered
a resident of San Ramon
on May 3, 2020 at 9:19 am


I truly do NOT wish you or your loved ones DO NOT become victims of serious crimes. Sincerely.

I have found when people do become victims or are close to those who have suffered something serious, their opinion changes and they generally become more open to allowing police to have all the tools they need to catch the guy(s) who violated not only people's civil liberties, but their safety.

BTW, I am not living in fear. I happen to be one of those who people call to run towards what you are afraid of.

Stay safe.


Posted by Ted
a resident of San Ramon
on May 3, 2020 at 10:32 am

Victims of police abuse are growing to the point that in the USA you are more likely to killed by a policeman than a terrorist. Ask the mother of the man killed by the Danville PD. Watch the video to see a confused man evade a police officer at 3 mph only to be killed by a police officer standing to the side of the car as he shoots into the moving car. After killing the driver the car goes out of control and crashes into on coming traffic. The DA has yet to decide what to do with the gun happy officer.

Again and again the public is viewing the abuse that has been going on for years and now with body cams and cell phone we witness the abuse of power. The domestic violence among police officers is well above the general population and shows the type of person that is drawn to police work. We need to change the police culture and stop the good old boy network which looks that other way and allows bad cops to stay on the job.

Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2020 at 3:43 pm

I am of mixed views on this issue. I am philosophically opposed to monitoring, and worry about the capability being abuses. On the other hand, I want law enforcement to be able to apprehend criminals.

My "compromise" solution would be to limit license-plate reading and video monitoring to the freeway exit and entrance ramps, and perhaps one or two other "main arterial roads", at the entrance and exit of city limits.

Same thing for Danville and Alamo. But I understand to some extent, both sides of this complex issue.

Posted by Johnny Ringo
a resident of San Ramon
on May 5, 2020 at 9:47 pm

Has anyone driven around and actually paid attention to the number of surveillance, sorry I mean ‘license plate readers’ in and around San Ramon? I counted well over 50 cameras in the Bollinger and Crow Canyon area alone. Does anyone know when these were all installed?

Posted by CopFriend
a resident of Blackhawk
on May 7, 2020 at 9:26 am

I love voting for more funding for the police every other year, shrugging for two decades as cops slowly turn into a militarized, white-supremacist-filled domestic occupation force and prisons grow more and more crowded, then clutching my Constitution and rattling my saber the moment a robot camera might give me a ticket after I drive home from Piatti.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Doing more with the natural spaces we have
By Sherry Listgarten | 8 comments | 3,463 views

Shining a spotlight on Tri-Valley start-ups
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 1,007 views

The future of homework
By Monith Ilavarasan | 0 comments | 681 views

Deferred? Now What?
By Elizabeth LaScala | 1 comment | 497 views