Anyone driving a stolen car better think twice before driving through Lathrop from now on.
On Monday the Lathrop City Council approved a staff proposal that will allow for the installation of state-of-the-art surveillance cameras equipped with license plate reading technology that will alert authorities if the vehicle passing through town has been entered into a nationwide law enforcement database.
The council voted 3-1 – with Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal absent due to illness and Vice Mayor Paul Akinjo dissenting – to use $250,000 from the Measure C fund to cover the purchase of the cameras for the city’s busiest intersections, and authorized an additional $175,000 contingency for the installation and future expansion of the system will come from existing salary savings.
The cameras – which will be placed at the intersections of Harlan Road and Louise Avenue, Golden Valley and River Islands Parkways, Harlan and Lathrop Roads, and Lathrop Road and 5th Street – will be an upgraded version of the Motorola cameras that the city already uses for surveillance at places like the corporation yard, and will be equipped with technology from Livermore-based Vigilant Solutions that provides the license-plate reading capabilities.
The cameras will be able to scan the license plates of vehicles across multiple lanes using a single lens – meaning that less cameras will be needed to cover a much wider area – and then check that entry against a database that is uploaded to by law enforcement – a practice that has led to the unfavorable headlines in the last month for the Livermore company that manages the system.
According to numerous media reports, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has reportedly been using the database that track suspected illegal immigrants in order to initiate deportation proceedings, and a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union to determine which law enforcement agencies have been uploading information to the database incorrectly stated that the City of Manteca was one of a handful of Northern California agencies that were providing data. After the announcement, the city looked into the matter and determined than an old patrol car that was equipped with an LPR previously had the capability of uploading to the database in question, but that vehicle had not been used for some time and the department had complied with all new state laws that prevent agencies from reporting the immigration status of people they detain to federal authorities.
The City of Lathrop was set to discuss this matter earlier this year but pulled the item from the agenda at the last minute for further discussion and consideration by staff.
But it won’t just be the locations with permanent cameras that will be able to scan traffic and report those in violation of the law to authorities. As part of the package that the council authorized, the city will also be in possession of a mobile trailer that can be set up in various locations depending on the agency’s need to perform the same task as the signal-mounted cameras.
To view the webcast of the council meeting, or to view the staff report prepared for the item, visit the City of Lathrop’s website at www.ci.lathrop.ca.us.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.