License Plate Recognition System Data Collection and Privacy July 1, 2019

Purpose:

This Operating Policy and Procedure provides guidelines for the collection, retention, and privacy of license plate recognition data at Santa Monica College (SMC). The purpose of the license plate recognition system is to provide information for parking access control, parking enforcement and law enforcement investigations.

Review:

This policy will be reviewed in November of even-numbered years by the Dean of Education Enterprise with substantive revisions forwarded to the Chief of Police and the Vice President of Student Affairs.

Policy/Procedure

The Santa Monica College Police Department ("SMCPD") utilizes license plate recognition hardware and software ("ALPR") for vehicle parking and access control. SMCPD utilize ALPR technology to capture and store digital license plate data and images while recognizing the established privacy rights of the public. All data and images gathered by the ALPR are for the official use of this department. Because such data may contain confidential information, it is not open to public review.

Authorized Users

The following are the job titles or other designation of the employees and independent contractors who are authorized to use or access the ALPR system, or to collect ALPR information:

Sworn police personnel are authorized to use or access the ALPR system for legitimate law enforcement purposes only.

Non-Sworn Enforcement Personnel are authorized to access the ALPR system for parking enforcement purposes only.

Police Services Assistant is authorized to access the ALPR system for parking management purposes only. Exceptions may be authorized by the Chief of Police, Custodian of Records or designee, due to litigation or the contesting of citations.

Dean of Education Enterprise, Director of Auxiliary Services and Enterprise Business Services Clerk are systems administrators for Santa Monica College and Custodians of Records.

Lexi Anderson – Program Coordinator Iparq systems and Iparq maintenance/SMC Systems Liaison.

Training

The Training Sergeant should ensure that members receive department-approved training for those authorized to use or access the ALPR system (Civil Code § 1798.90.51; Civil Code § 1798.90.53). Police Personnel including Police Officers, Campus Safety Officers, Parking Enforcement Officers and the Police Services Assistant shall be trained in the use and policies set forth by the Department and District.

Monitoring of System

Use of an ALPR is restricted to the purposes outlined below. Department members shall not use, or allow others to use the equipment or database records for any unauthorized purpose (Civil Code § 1798.90.51; Civil Code § 1798.90.53).

  • An ALPR shall only be used for official law enforcement business.

  • An ALPR may be used in conjunction with any routine patrol operation or criminal investigation. Reasonable suspicion or probable cause is not required before using an ALPR.

  • No member of this department shall operate ALPR equipment or access ALPR data without first completing department-approved training.

  • No ALPR operator may access department, state or federal data unless otherwise authorized to do so.

  • If practicable, the police officer should verify an ALPR response through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS) before taking enforcement action that is based solely on an ALPR alert. 

Data Sharing

The ALPR data may be shared only with other law enforcement or prosecutorial agencies for official law enforcement purposes or as otherwise permitted by law, using the following procedures: 

  • The agency makes a written request for the A​LPR data that includes:
    • The name of the agency.
    • The name of the person requesting.
    • The intended purpose of obtaining the information.
  • The request is reviewed by the Chief of Police or the authorized designee and approved before the request is fulfilled.
  • The approved request is retained on file.

Requests for ALPR data by non-law enforcement or non-prosecutorial agencies will be processed as provided in the Records Maintenance and Release Policy (Civil Code § 1798.90.55).

Owner of ALPR System.

The Santa Monica Community College District is the owner of the ALPR system.

Data Correction

All data will be closely safeguarded and protected by both procedural and technological means. The Santa Monica College Police Department will observe the following safeguards regarding access to and use of stored data (Civil Code § 1798.90.51; Civil Code § 1798.90.53):

  • All ALPR data downloaded to the mobile workstation and in storage shall be accessible only through a login/password-protected system capable of documenting all access of information by name, date and time (Civil Code § 1798.90.52).
  • Members approved to access ALPR data under these guidelines are permitted to access the data for legitimate law enforcement purposes only, such as when the data relate to a specific criminal investigation or department-related civil or administrative action.
  • ALPR system audits should be conducted on a regular basis.

Locations

ALPR data is collected on District managed or owned streets, parking lots and structures. The Santa Monica College Police Department utilizes a number of mobile vehicle-mounted systems or handheld devices which are driven or operated by trained personnel in parking locations throughout the District.

Data Collected

The ALPR system captures two photos of observed vehicles: (1) a context photo of the vehicle and its immediate surroundings and (2) a photo of the license plate. Typically, these photos are taken from the rear of the vehicle, although there are occasions where a photo is taken from the front of a vehicle backed into a space or standing in a driving aisle. The photos are not of a resolution that allows identification of the vehicle occupants if they are present. Along with the photographic data, the system also records the global positioning system coordinates and date/time information of the observation. Further software processing of the license plate image generates an alphanumeric version of the license plate number which is also stored with the record. While no owner or driver information is stored directly with the ALPR record, vehicle ALPR data is linked to individual patron accounts within the parking management system.

The images stored in the system are collected from areas visible to the public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. Moreover, ALPR data stored in our system does not include any personally identifying information (PII), or information which relates the license plate image to the driver or registered owner of a vehicle. PII contained in the vehicle registration information is protected by federal law (Driver's Privacy Protection Act, Title 18, US Code, Section 2721 et seq.) and State laws.

Use of Data

The intended use of data collected by the ALPR system is for parking access control, parking enforcement and law enforcement investigations. ALPR data is used to determine a vehicle's access permissions in a given parking area or controlled access area of campus and support the issuance of a parking citation if needed. The data is also used by the Santa Monica College Police Department ("SMCPD") in conducting ongoing criminal investigations and investigations of complaints. SMCPD may utilize ALPR data with active connections to state and federal sponsored hot lists containing a stolen vehicle, wanted person and missing person information. Any use of the data for purposes outside of these stated purposes must be detailed and approved in writing through administrative channels by the Chief of Police, Executive Vice President, and the President of Santa Monica College.

Data Retention

Data collected by the ALPR system not resulting in parking enforcement action or not part of an ongoing law enforcement investigation is retained for 60 days and is automatically purged. Data resulting in a parking enforcement action is retained with the citation record. Data associated with an ongoing law enforcement investigation is retained until the investigation is completed or as directed by investigators or courts. Once completed the investigating officer will direct the Police Services Assistant to delete the appropriate data.

Access to Records

Access to records created and maintained by the ALPR system is restricted to trained Police Department personnel performing their duties. All personnel with access to the system use unique identifiers and passwords to access records and all login activity, record additions, and other activity is logged. The Chief of Police or designee shall act as the Custodian of Records and access to the system by others is prohibited.

Determining What ALPR Data We Have About Your Vehicle

Individuals may request a report detailing what, if any, ALPR data we have on vehicles registered or identified to them. The report may be requested in person; or in writing by email, U.S. Mail or fax. Alternatively, any registered user of the District's parking management system may view this information by logging into their account found at smc.edu/parking.

Contact information for SMCPD can be found at smc.edu. Individuals requesting a report in person must provide sufficient identification to establish their identity as the owner of the vehicle or family relationship to the registered owner as a driver of the vehicle. For all other requests, a copy of the report will be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle by U.S. mail at the address on file with the proper state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Public Notification

SMCPD will notify the public of its ALPR data collection activities and policies via:

  • Posting of a privacy policy on the SMCPD website

  • Publishing of this ALPR privacy policy in the Santa Monica College Policy and Procedures web page.

  • Posted signage at each entrance to the campus of the use of an ALPR parking management system.

  • An e-mail to each user of a registered vehicle will be sent to the registered e-mail address containing policy, procedure and general information pertaining to the use of ALPR and its parking management system. It is important for each registered use to maintain and update their contact information with our parking management system to receive important notice.