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Encinitas to install 17 new license-plate readers

Class-action suit against them set for trial May 17

The small cameras can photograph thousands of plates per minute
The small cameras can photograph thousands of plates per minute

Signals, Lights, Cams. Encinitas will keep tabs on even more drivers under a proposal to install 17 new automated license-plate readers at locations from Manchester Avenue to Leucadia Boulevard.

These are in addition to seven cameras that went up on traffic signals and light poles in 2022, when Encinitas became the first local city to contract with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to install the technology.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union and other critics say the cameras are an invasion of motorists' privacy rights. A class action lawsuit filed on behalf of 23 million Californians in San Diego County Superior Court is set for trial on May 17, alleging that a company sold people's location data. 

California law doesn't allow police to share automated license plate reader information with private entities or out of state and federal agencies. Advocates, however, say dozens of law enforcement agencies still share the data with agencies in other states. Locally, the only agency that has verified that they don't provide it to other state agencies is the Escondido Police Department. 

A city report claims that the small cameras, which can photograph thousands of plates per minute, uploading the location of vehicles to a shareable database, "helped achieve a 14 percent reduction in the Encinitas crime rate during 2023." 

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Vehicle data is captured "randomly" by cameras that convert the plate characters into a text file using optical character recognition technology. If a match is found, the user of the license plate reader is notified in real time.  

According to officials, many offenders — 41 percent in 2022 and 56 percent in 2023 — live outside Encinitas. To catch them as they drive in and out of town, cameras were placed in high-traffic intersections along Encinitas Blvd, Interstate 5 off ramps, North Coast Highway 101, Avenida La Posta and Rancho Santa Fe Road.

The devices netted shoplifting suspects, multiple felony warrant suspects, a wanted child molester, vehicle theft and commercial burglary suspects, all arrested within the North Coastal Station’s command area.

City staff and the Sheriff's Department propose placing the additional cameras on intersections along Encinitas Boulevard, as well as Birmingham Drive, Leucadia Boulevard, and several other busy locations.

The city council will decide on Wednesday if they will expand the contract. The vendor, Flock Safety, will provide the cameras for the one-year term, at a cost of $53,550.

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The small cameras can photograph thousands of plates per minute
The small cameras can photograph thousands of plates per minute

Signals, Lights, Cams. Encinitas will keep tabs on even more drivers under a proposal to install 17 new automated license-plate readers at locations from Manchester Avenue to Leucadia Boulevard.

These are in addition to seven cameras that went up on traffic signals and light poles in 2022, when Encinitas became the first local city to contract with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to install the technology.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union and other critics say the cameras are an invasion of motorists' privacy rights. A class action lawsuit filed on behalf of 23 million Californians in San Diego County Superior Court is set for trial on May 17, alleging that a company sold people's location data. 

California law doesn't allow police to share automated license plate reader information with private entities or out of state and federal agencies. Advocates, however, say dozens of law enforcement agencies still share the data with agencies in other states. Locally, the only agency that has verified that they don't provide it to other state agencies is the Escondido Police Department. 

A city report claims that the small cameras, which can photograph thousands of plates per minute, uploading the location of vehicles to a shareable database, "helped achieve a 14 percent reduction in the Encinitas crime rate during 2023." 

Sponsored
Sponsored

Vehicle data is captured "randomly" by cameras that convert the plate characters into a text file using optical character recognition technology. If a match is found, the user of the license plate reader is notified in real time.  

According to officials, many offenders — 41 percent in 2022 and 56 percent in 2023 — live outside Encinitas. To catch them as they drive in and out of town, cameras were placed in high-traffic intersections along Encinitas Blvd, Interstate 5 off ramps, North Coast Highway 101, Avenida La Posta and Rancho Santa Fe Road.

The devices netted shoplifting suspects, multiple felony warrant suspects, a wanted child molester, vehicle theft and commercial burglary suspects, all arrested within the North Coastal Station’s command area.

City staff and the Sheriff's Department propose placing the additional cameras on intersections along Encinitas Boulevard, as well as Birmingham Drive, Leucadia Boulevard, and several other busy locations.

The city council will decide on Wednesday if they will expand the contract. The vendor, Flock Safety, will provide the cameras for the one-year term, at a cost of $53,550.

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