How ALPR Systems Work
Figure 1 is a flow chart that shows how an ALPR system works. First, it shows an ALPR camera capturing an image of a license plate from a passing vehicle. This image is then stored in a database. Separately from the ALPR system, the law enforcement agency compiles a hot list and then stores this hot list in the ALPR database. Upon capturing an image, the ALPR system compares the license plate image to this hot list. If the ALPR system identifies the license plate as a wanted vehicle, it sends an alert to law enforcement officers.
The Agencies’ ALPR Policies Are Missing Required Key Elements for Respecting Individuals’ Privacy
This figure rates the four agencies’ ALPR policies on whether the policies include required key elements for respecting individuals’ privacy. Yellow or red shield symbols denote the overall quality of each policy, with red denoting more severe issues with the policy than yellow. Fresno has a yellow shield because its ALPR policy is missing information about who has system access, how it will monitor the system, and data-sales restrictions. Los Angeles has a red shield because it is missing an ALPR policy entirely. Marin has a yellow shield because its ALPR policy is missing information about who has system access, how it will monitor the system, and the process it will follow for data destruction. Sacramento has a yellow shield because its ALPR policy is missing information about who has system access, how it will monitor the system, and data-sales restrictions.
The Agencies’ Existing Agreements With Vigilant Do Not Contain Adequate Data Security Measures
This figure rates Fresno, Marin, and Sacramento’s contract terms with Vigilant in the area of data security. Yellow and red shields represent the overall strength of the contract terms, with red denoting more severe issues with the contract terms than yellow. The figure specifies that an agreement should cover four data-security measures: how the data is stored, who owns the data, who can access the data, and how the data will be protected. Fresno has a yellow shield because its contract terms lack data storage, data access, and data protection measures. Marin has a red shield because its contract terms lack all four measures. Sacramento has a yellow shield because its contract terms lack data storage and data access measures.
Three Agencies Have Authorized Sharing With Entities Located in States Across the Nation
This figure shows the number of entities with whom Sacramento, Fresno, and Marin have authorized sharing their ALPR images and the geographic breadth of those entities. On the left side, the figure lists the name of the agency and the number of entities with whom it has authorized sharing. Sacramento has authorized shares with 1,119 entities, Fresno with 982, and Marin with 554. The right-hand side of the figure shows a map of the United States and most of the states are shaded. The shading represent those states that contain entities with whom the three agencies authorized a share. The only states that are not shaded are Alaska, Arkansas, North Dakota, West Virginia, New Hampshire, and Maine.
Los Angeles Shares Images With 58 Law Enforcement Agencies
This figure consists of a map of Los Angeles and the surrounding region. San Fernando is the farthest city to the north, Malibu the farthest to the west, Pomona the farthest to the east, and Irvine the farthest to the south. 58 shields with a star in the center, representing the entities with whom Los Angeles shares its ALPR images, are scattered across the map in their respective locations. The entities are not identified by name. The heaviest concentration of shields is in Los Angeles and along the coast between Santa Monica and Long Beach. There is also a large group between Burbank and Pomona to the north and east.
The Agencies Lack Many Best Practice Safeguards for Establishing and Managing User Accounts
This figure describes how each agency rated in terms of best practice safeguards for establishing and managing ALPR user accounts. Green, yellow, and red shields represent the overall quality of each agency’s safeguards, with green being the best and red the worst. The agencies were rated on five total safeguards, divided into two groups: two safeguards for account setup and three safeguards for account maintenance. Fresno has a red shield for account setup as it lacks both safeguards: supervisor approval and training. It has a yellow shield for account maintenance because it lacks safeguards for training to reactivate accounts and accounts being disabled for separated employees. Los Angeles has a red shield for account setup as it lacks both safeguards: supervisor approval and training. It has a yellow shield for account maintenance, lacking inactive accounts suspended and training to reactivate accounts. Marin received a yellow shield in both areas, lacking a total of two of five safeguards. It lacks supervisor approval for account setup, and it lacks training to reactivate accounts in account maintenance. Sacramento lacks only one out of the five safeguards. It lacks supervisor approval for account setup but does not lack any safeguards for account maintenance.
Vigilant Is the ALPR Vendor the Majority of Law Enforcement Agencies Use
This figure is a donut chart that shows which ALPR vendors the law enforcement agencies that responded to our survey use. The majority, 161, use Vigilant. Fifty use Neology or PIPS. Fifty use other vendors, a category that includes Genetec, ELSAG, and All Traffic Solutions. A note at the bottom of the chart specifies that the total number of ALPR vendors used is greater than the 230 agencies that said they use ALPR systems because some agencies use more than one vendor.
A Majority of Agencies Generally Retain ALPR Information for Between Six Months and Two Years
This bar chart shows how long the agencies that responded to our survey generally retain their ALPR information. Thirty retain the information for less than one day. Seventeen retain it for between one day to six months. Seventy-six retain the information for between six months to one year, while 56 retain it for between one to two years. Twenty-nine retain it for between two to five years. Nineteen retain it for more than five years. Therefore, the majority generally retain ALPR information for between six months and two years. A note at the bottom of the chart specifies that three responding agencies that use ALPR systems did not indicate a retention period for their information. These were the Bakersfield Police Department, Fountain Valley Police Department, and Pasadena Police Department.