North County Report: Carlsbad Police Using Automatic License Plate Readers - Voice of San Diego

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North County Report: Carlsbad Police Using Automatic License Plate Readers

ICE no longer has a permanent space at the Vista Detention Facility, members of an Encinitas commissions protest the Pledge of Allegiance, and more in this week’s roundup of North County news.

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Carlsbad’s 14 stationary automated license-plate readers, as well as six mobile units, have been fully activated and have led to three arrests plus the recovery of three stolen vehicles, NBC 7 reports.

While the Carlsbad Police Department is “very happy” with the technology, many people, including the ACLU, are not. They’ve expressed concerns about privacy.

The policies governing Carlsbad’s use of the license plate readers come from two sources: the Automated Regional Justice Information System, a coalition of the county’s law enforcement agencies, and the city’s own internal guidelines. Those sources deviate on some key points.

ARJIS’ policy states that license plate information is only gathered to identify lost or stolen vehicles and plates, and to provide information for ongoing investigations. Information can be kept for up to one year, unless it is needed for an investigation, and can only be accessed by law enforcement agencies who belong to ARJIS and meet certain state requirements.

Meanwhile, the police department’s internal policy allows for license plate, geographic and time information to be submitted to both the regional database managed by ARJIS and a database managed by Vigilant Solutions, which is the largest private provider of license plate readers to law enforcement agencies across the nation.

And whereas ARJIS maintains strict policies on storage and access, Vigilant Solutions’ are a bit more permissive.

Their website states that the company may use the information for both law enforcement and commercial purposes, like showing off its product to other clients, or providing “market research” with aggregated data. And whereas ARJIS says only law enforcement can access the license plate information, Vigilant says anyone they hire or contract with has access, as long as they’ve read the manuals.

Vigilant also acts as either an owner or custodian of different data, depending on who owns the equipment. Information collected by cameras owned by local agencies can only be shared according to those agencies’ policies.

Carlsbad owns its cameras, and the city’s policy states that the information they collect can only be accessed for law enforcement purposes.

A spokeswoman for the Carlsbad Police Department said by email that the department is “in control of our images and who sees them.”

Effects of Sanctuary State Law Still Unclear for Local Agencies

When federal immigration authorities began ramping up cooperation with local law enforcement after the 2016 election, California responded with what came to be known as the sanctuary state law.

The California Values Act extended some protections to undocumented immigrants by limiting how local law enforcement contact and work with federal authorities, Voice’s Maya Srikrishnan writes. It will also require local agencies to start reporting what federal task forces they participate in, and when their operations result in immigration proceedings.

The bill now means that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will no longer have a permanent space at the Vista Detention Facility, among other local jails.

But it’s unclear exactly what the law means for cities that receive grants under Operation Stonegarden, which provides funds to bolster border security using local agencies, or for cities like Escondido, which was just awarded a $250,000 federal grant to hire more officers — with an emphasis on immigration enforcement.

Encinitas Traffic Commission Collides Over Pledge

It’s not exactly #TakeAKnee, but a protest against similar patriotic displays has made its way to one of Encinitas’ volunteer citizens commissions.

The Coast News reports that two members of the city’s Traffic and Public Safety Commission refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, and one of them even tried to get the pledge removed from the commission’s agenda.

Aaron Burgin reports that, while Commissioner Christina Simokat isn’t talking about why she wouldn’t stand, Commissioner Darius Degher said he was protesting the pledge because it is rooted in nationalism and perpetuates a “feverish nationalistic climate” across the nation.

Degher told NBC 7 that it was also a protest against President Donald Trump, who is “hiding behind the flag and this nationalism as a way of promoting these other darker ideas.”

Some of the other members of the commission respect the decision to protest, but at least one commissioner is upset with their actions, saying it was a matter of “respect.”

Also in the News

A monk at the Prince of Peace Abbey is leaving his legacy through honey. (KPBS)

A plan to allow tourists to stay overnight in bungalows at a farm near the Carlsbad Flower fields was blasted as “inappropriate” and rejected by the city’s planning commission. (Union-Tribune)

A building that first housed a hardware store in 1888 in downtown Oceanside will get new life as a boutique hotel. (Union-Tribune)

Encinitas’ city manager and city attorney are set to get raises. (The Coast News)

San Dieguito Union High School District completed the switch to by-district elections with little fanfare. (The Coast News)

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