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Open Letter to the Santa Cruz City Council Re: Reconsideration of Justice Assistance Grant
by Steve Pleich (spleich [at]
Friday Feb 7th, 2014 12:35 PM
Council Needs to Hear the Voice of the People

Dear City Council Member,

It is my understanding that council has approved the acceptance of a Justice Assistance Grant in the amount of $37,000 designated for the purchase of Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) to be utilized by the Santa Cruz Police Department. I am concerned that this proposed purchase and use reflects an increasing lack of privacy in our community and could potentially work to diminish the civil liberties cherished by the citizens of Santa Cruz.

We live in an increasingly informational age and I am concerned that employing these devises would result in “batch gathering” of information in the absence of clear guidelines about how long this data would be stored and how the data would be used over time.

While I understand that the capture of data stored for a limited time and used narrowly for designated police purposes may not raise civil liberty concerns, the pursuit of public safety must be balanced against the potential invasion of personal privacy the use of these devices represent. This is a concern that I believe is shared by many members of our community.

I would, therefore, respectfully request that council reconsider its decision in this matter by directing staff to prepare a full report on proposed guidelines for use of these devices together with consideration of their potential impacts on our civil liberties. I would further respectfully request that council thereafter re-agendize this matter for a fuller community discussion.


A Concerned Citizen

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Razer Ray
Friday Feb 7th, 2014 3:38 PM
So where was everyone when the city installed a camera network to surveil downtown streets and hired North Korean/Chinese type "Minders"aka Private patrol "security" to stalk any group of people hanging around there?

Nowhere to be found.

Now that it's going to affect nice (allegedly) law-abiding Santa Cruzans who have the middle class wherewithal to own a car... This, one of the few police-state like practices Santa Cruz has instituted over the decades that will have minimal to no effect on the houseless of Santa Cruz, has Steve and the ACLU ALL OVER IT like flies on ACLU funding shit.

Hypocrites. You DESERVE it.
by Robert Norse
Sunday Feb 9th, 2014 4:02 AM
I sympathize with Razor Ray's perspective and sentiments here. Still, I'd say take whatever opportunities you can to raise the issue.

I briefly objected to this grant speaking at City Council last year, but was ignored.

John Malkin spent some time preparing a Good Times article on the subject at .

And the ACLU's Wednesday night public forum on local surveillance (mostly about the license plate ID-ing equipment, I fear) will supposedly have a "time for questions" Colin Campbell Clyde told me at the Food Not Bombs meal today. Identifying the location of the various surveillance cameras downtown and exposing the abusive and intrusive nature of the security thugs stalking the downtown area (mostly as an anti-homeless response) seems to me a higher priority--and should be raised loudly.

Please post the locations of cameras on Pacific Avenue and elsewhere downtown as well as in public buildings. As a community, we have a right to know where we're being spied on. And to end this spying.
by Razer Ray
Sunday Feb 9th, 2014 8:17 AM
There was a series of rapes and attacks downtown with a few occurring in public garages and the talk-about-town turned to cams in the public parking garages, which, in the realistic sense of the word makes SOME sense as they are 'remote' in the sense the individual's view of whose hiding where is obscured making parking garages lairs for muggers, and the fact that the cars themselves cost as much as a house costs in some places in the world and people are intrinsically worried about car theft/break-ins.

I think, if there DID end up being cams in Santa Cruz public garages (and I don't recall any ballyhoo IF they were installed), they came AFTER the rest of downtown was "bugged". Now they're ubiquitous. with clusters of them at locations all over downtown and a (most likely DHS funded) bus station system that's literally Orwellian to the point security guards no longer continually need to roam the bus plaza, they just watch the monitors that expose every square inch of the station.
by take a cab
Tuesday Feb 11th, 2014 2:04 PM
this data can be stored for years, and all your movements can be tracked. same with cell phones of course, but that is nsa prerogative, not local corrupt gov.

you also have no 4th amendment protection for a license plate in plain view of everyone, whereas, you should with a cell phone.

knowing how inept local gov. is, the data will probably eventually get hacked into the hands of anonymous, and we will then learn about gov. officials' and employees' trips to pot dispensaries, strip clubs, and brothels. when that happens, city council will defund the practice.