Dear City Council Members,
It is our 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. The American Civil Liberties Union – Santa Cruz County Chapter (ACLU SC) is concerned that this proposed purchase and use reflects a diminishing right of privacy in our community and could potentially work to abridge the civil liberties cherished by the citizens of Santa Cruz.
Increasingly, we live in an informational age and we are 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 we understand that the capture of data stored for a limited time and used narrowly for designated police purposes may not in itself 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 we believe is shared by many members of our community.
We would, therefore, 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. We would further request that council thereafter re-agendize this matter for a fuller community discussion.
American Civil Liberties Union
Santa Cruz County Chapter