City begins implementation of the Automated License Plate Recognition Cameras

ALPR cameras enhance public safety by providing usable license plate data for Sheriff’s Department 

By Samantha Bravo

Of The Malibu Times

On April 21, 2021, the Public Safety Commission voted in favor of the installation of approximately eight Automated License Plate Recognition cameras. The City Council authorized the purchase and installation of ALPR for use by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Sept. 1, 2021. The city finally received 12 cameras in December 2022.

The department intends to use ALPR technology for the following public safety purposes: Investigation for prosecution or exoneration of suspected criminal (including terrorist) incidents; identification and/or location of wanted persons; enforcement of sanctions, orders, or sentences; crime prevention/general law enforcement purposes; and crime analysis and investigatory leads in subsequent investigations. LASD has identified locations for the cameras and will be working to install them throughout the city. 

An estimated $26,000 was appropriated from the General Fund for the equipment. 

“The goal of the ALPR cameras is to enhance public safety by providing usable license plate data for use by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the contracted agency for law enforcement services,” the Public Safety Commission staff report says. “This proposal is being designed with the aid of the City of Malibu, Malibu/Lost Hills Station Detective Bureau, and the Advanced Surveillance and Protection unit.”

According to Sheriff’s Department’s ALPR Privacy Policy, LASD retains the right to remove ALPR data earlier, based on limitations of data storage requirements and other limitations, including privacy concerns.

The purpose of LASD’s privacy policy is to ensure that all conduct of LASD and its personnel related to the capture, use, retention, and dissemination of information obtained through the use of the (ALPR) System complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Audit trails will be maintained by LASD for a minimum of two years. 

The data will be used for legitimate authorized purposes related to law enforcement, criminal justice, and public safety functions of the department and to be used by members who have been trained in the use of the ALPR.

The ALPR cameras will be solar-powered. While solar is suitable for quick implementation, staff recommends that a plan to hardwire the cameras to a power source be implemented. 

Five areas have been identified with the aid of Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff station personnel. All areas are major roadway intersections where vehicular traffic is present and where ALPR data will be of value for both immediate alert action and long-term investigations.

The locations are: PCH/Lunita Road, PCH/Kanan Dume Road, Malibu Canyon Road/Civic Center Way, PCH/Cross Creek Road, and PCH/South Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

Staff received some concerns regarding these locations, particularly with the lack of coverage on the west end of the city. The concern was communicated to LASD and resolved. 

LASD detectives surveyed the areas that were originally identified for cameras, which included: eastern entrance to Malibu, western entrance to Malibu, Latigo Canyon Road and PCH, Malibu Crest Drive and Malibu Canyon Road 5. Kanan Dume Road and Cavalleri Drive, 32350 PCH, Las Flores Canyon Road, and PCH and Webb Way and PCH.

The camera locations are optimized for both inbound and outbound vehicular traffic along the Pacific Coast Highway and outlying areas. 

For more information, see Item 5.A. in the Public Safety Commission’s Jan. 4 staff report. 

City Of Malibu Public Safety Liaison Luis Flores (left) and Deputy Samuel Paul (right) assist with the delivery of the Automatic License Plate Cameras in December. Photo courtesy City of Malibu.
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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