Piedmont wants to record cars that enter city


Police Chief Rikki Goede says license plate readers are just one tool that can help solve and prevent some crimes. Others see them as a clear invasion of privacy.

Piedmont has seen a spike in property crimes in recent months, including two high-profile home invasions.

"So it just is a way to be able to tell if a stolen vehicle has come into town...or registered owner who is a wanted person, maybe a sex offender. But it's also a good tool on the back end for investigations if you have a burglary or some other crime in your city," said Goede.

The license plate readers would be placed at key intersections around town.

Many Bay Area cities already have license plate readers mounted on police cars. Tiburon installed six cameras on its two main thoroughfares nearly three years ago and attribute them to a 30 percent reduction in crime.

In Tiburon, license plate numbers of all those who enter and exit the town are kept for just 30 days but in Piedmont, the proposal is to store them for a year. That has the American Civil Liberties Union, and some residents concerned about privacy issues.

"I don't know that government or public institutions should have unfettered access to my every movement in a car," said Piedmont resident Rick Schiller. "Even though we have sharply reduced expectation of privacy or I used my credit card in this digital age. I don't think we should go to what'd be called a police state."

Other residents agree. "I just think it's an over-reaction. It's government acting too fast to the situation," said John Hardgrove.

The cost of the 57 fixed cameras and the related equipment Piedmont is looking to purchase would be around $1 million.

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