Morgan Hill license plate readers lead to dozens of arrests in first few months of deployment

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- The City of Morgan Hill is reporting better than expected crime reduction numbers in the city following a license plate reader pilot program that started in September.

Flock Safety says their license plate readers have been shown to reduce crime up to 70%. The company helped the Morgan Hill Police Department deploy 25 license plate readers throughout the city.

RELATED: 6 men charged with hate crimes after more than 100 Asian women targeted in Bay Area robberies

"We knew the program and implementing it from other cities who implemented a flock solution were successful, we just didn't expect it to be that successful for us in the first couple months with the data that we had," Morgan Hill Police Dept. Capt. Mario Ramirez said.

These cameras capture license plates coming into the city and alert police when a car is stolen or registered to a person of interest.

Since installing the cameras in September, MHPD has recovered 51 stolen vehicles and arrested 66 crime suspects tied to alerts.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom unveils new public safety efforts to curb crime
EMBED More News Videos

Governor Newsom has unveiled new statewide public safety proposals to fight and prevent crimes in local communities.



"I do think it is a force multiplier for agencies big and small to help identify vehicles as well as identify suspect vehicles for those individuals that are committing crime within each individual community," Capt. Ramirez said.

The camera systems are in more than fourteen hundred cities, including in Vallejo where police say they arrested a murder suspect thanks to the readers earlier this week.

But questions of privacy remain.

Flock Safety says the cameras are not used to detect faces, gender or race... just license plates and vehicles.

RELATED: Mayor Schaaf writes letter to state asking for cameras on Oakland highways

Legal Analyst Steven Clark says there is no probable cause requirements for these readers and people have a right to drive to locations they hope to keep private such as gun stores or medical appointments.

"Obviously this is a good law enforcement tool, but at what societal cost?" Clark asked. "You have a right to travel in the United States without being harassed by the government. Certainly, when you have this collection of data, you raise a lot of significant privacy concerns."

MHPD Captain Mario Ramirez says the department has safety measures in place including sole use for their department only when there is a case number.

Morgan Hill voted to keep the readers in place for two years.

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.