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LAPD Tells ACLU, 'All Cars AND PEOPLE Are Under Investigation'
03-27-2014, 06:25 PM,
LAPD Tells ACLU, 'All Cars AND PEOPLE Are Under Investigation'
Kept busy with business to not defend people and planet civil rights. Police state creeps in…..

LAPD Tells ACLU, 'All Cars AND PEOPLE Are Under Investigation'

By The Stream Team, Al Jazeera America
26 March 14

he Los Angeles Police Department says it cannot release information about its automatic license plate reader program because all cars in the Los Angeles metropolitan area are under investigation.

The LAPD made this legal argument in response to a records request from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which sought to find out what the license plate readers had captured, as well as the department's policies for retaining and sharing the data.

Automatic license plate reader (ALPR) systems like the one employed by the LAPD take photos of any and all license plates, storing the plate number, time and location.

The LAPD's legal argument for denying the records request is novel in that it characterizes data collection not tied to a specific criminal case as investigatory, arguing that it may prove useful in future investigations.

The LAPD's filing reads: "All ALPR data is investigatory — regardless of whether a license plate scan results in an immediate 'hit' because, for instance, the vehicle may be stolen, the subject of an 'Amber Alert,' or operated by an individual with an outstanding arrest warrant."

In a blog post, the EFF's Jennifer Lynch criticized the LAPD's argument, saying that it carries significant Fourth Amendment implications: This argument is completely counter to our criminal justice system, in which we assume law enforcement will not conduct an investigation unless there are some indicia of criminal activity. In fact, the Fourth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution exactly to prevent law enforcement from conducting mass, suspicionless investigations under “general warrants” that targeted no specific person or place and never expired.

Transparency reports and successful records requests across the country have raised concerns about ALPR programs like the one in Los Angeles.

A public record request about the Boston Police Department's license plate readers caused the program to be shut down after it was revealed that the department failed to protect personal data and that license plate readers were deployed primarily in low-income neighborhoods.

In February, it was revealed that Vermont had granted various federal agencies access to its database of 8 million license plates and location records. The chart below shows which federal agencies were granted access:

ALPR programs elsewhere have been shown to collect large amounts of data in relatively short periods of time. With just 61 scanners statewide, Vermont law enforcement performed enough scans to read every license plate in the town of Rutland 64 times in an 18-month period in 2012-2013.

Dallas law enforcement's larger ALPR deployment scanned 10.5 million license plates in three months. Police departments have touted the ability of license plate readers to solve serious crimes like stolen vehicles. Dallas police, for example, say they have recovered 170 stolen vehicles since the start of their ALPR program.
A MuckRock and Boston Globe investigation into Boston's ALPR program suggested that the system was not focused on serious crime. In one instance, a stolen vehicle was scanned nearly 60 times without triggering action from law enforcement.

This chart from MuckRock shows the breakdown of crime "hits" from one data set released by the Boston Police Department, showing a heavy focus on insurance violations. Most of the recorded hits released by the department did not include the reason that the given car was on a crime watch list.
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