East Bay News

Piedmont will photograph drivers' license plate numbers

Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Piedmont, California. A KGO map of Piedmont.

The upscale East Bay town of Piedmont is investing big money on a new surveillance program designed to protect people who live there from a growing crime threat and the residual violent crimes and break-ins that plague neighboring Oakland.

Grand Avenue is only one of several roads leading into Piedmont. And in a matter of months, those roads will be outfitted with license plate readers which capture a digital image of every car entering the city limits.

In the 13.5 years that Scott Cauchois has lived in Piedmont, he has seen the community change.

"Rising crime rate, especially burglaries. A few home invasions and general awareness of rising crime rates all around," he said.

On Monday, the City Council approved a plan to purchase and install cameras that can capture the license plate attached to any vehicle moving in and out of town.

"This is just another piece of technology that's out there to help us do our jobs better," said Piedmont Police Chief Rikki Goede.

The cameras will be placed at more than a dozen locations using multiple lenses focused on major streets. The city will pay close to $700,000 for the technology.

"It's a tool that really specifically addresses what we need addressed here, which are property crimes," said Goede.

Cameras are only one part of a three-pronged approach the city plans to implement. Piedmont will partner with other law enforcement agencies and expand a community watch program.

Some residents have expressed concerns about privacy.

"You know it's public property, it's public space and I think we should be able to move in and out without feeling like we're being monitored all the time," said resident Jack Griffoul.

This technology isn't new. Other cities have used license plate readers as part of proactive security measures before.

Piedmont officials say the information gathered will only be used by law enforcement and will be destroyed after a year, unless it directly connects to an investigation.

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piedmont, oakland, crime, violence, caught on tape, east bay news
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