San Jacinto council wins resident support for license reader cameras

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The San Jacinto City Council heard several citizen comments welcoming the new license plate readers, which are being installed at the city’s major intersections.

At its July 21 meeting, the council approved a budget adjustment of $28,000 to implement an ALPR technology program that allows for the automated detection of license plates using a mobile or fixed camera. The data images captured by the camera are processed and associated with vehicle license plates for law enforcement purposes, including identifying and locating stolen or wanted vehicles, stolen license plates or missing persons.

The ALPRs now being used in the neighboring cities like Hemet have proven successful. Under new regulations the images are erased after 30 days; however, they have also been used to gather information about missing persons and related stolen property and active warrants.

A public hearing was held virtually at the Tuesday, Sept. 15, city council meeting with no public comment, but at an earlier meeting, several residents submitted comments by letter, praising the council for approving the purchase of the ALPRs.

City Manager Rob Johnson, with the approval of the council, entered into an agreement with Flock Group Inc. to purchase and use the technology. It will be added to the currently contracted San Jacinto Police Department vehicles to relay information about license plates on cars listed as stolen.

Under the agreement, 10 cameras will be installed at locations throughout the city, following a consultation with Flock, for maximum effectiveness. The agreement provides that data collected by Flock will be deleted after 30 days; however, any data that is accessed by the city during the 30-day period can be saved and stored for longer retention. The contract will be reviewed each year to determine if it will be continued.

Council members asked if the cameras are used to look into other things, such as outstanding traffic tickets and other crimes, that might violate citizen’s rights to privacy. They were assured the cameras will not be used in that regard.

When asked where they would be located, Johnson said the locations will not be announced.

A copy of the city’s ALPR policy is available on the city’s website for the public to read.

In other business, the council, with all five members present online, adopted a resolution approving an Integrated Resource Plan for the San Jacinto Power Community Choice Aggregation Program. Under state mandates, the city’s San Jacinto Power program is required to report their actions toward meeting the state’s goals in the Renewable Portfolio of Standards for California and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Tom Prill, deputy city manager, told the council the city’s community choice aggregate is meeting the standards as set by the state. The city must report its progress to the state every two years.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.