New license plate readers for Salinas Police

SALINAS, Calif. - The Salinas Police Department is getting a new tool to crack down on crime. The City Council, Tuesday night, approved the purchase of license plate readers (LPR's) that take photos and scan plates on the go, then send the information back to officers in real time. 

The Council approved for four police units to be outfitted with the LPR's and related equipment, costing $85,429.13. These are physical machines combined with databases through "Vigilant Solutions."

"They alert the officer right away, so the officers understands there is something and what the match is 
for. Is it a stolen car? Is it a wanted vehicle? Is it a missing person?" Commander Mike Groves, with the Salinas Police Department, said.

The Department has used LPR's in the past, but the system was not reliable. This is an upgraded system for SPD, and should be in use in the next one to two months. 

Commander Groves tells KION trained Salinas Police personnel will have access to the data, which will also help with investigations. "(It will help) after the fact, so as cars are leaving the scene, or an area of a shooting, or of any type of a crime, it gives the officers something to follow up on."

But in the year of social media infringing on personal data, will anyone else be able to see this information? 

"We do have the ability to share it with other law enforcement agencies. They have to specifically make 
a request. They can't just pull in and look at it. The company themselves that we are getting it through, they have no access to it at all," Groves says. 

Vigilant Solutions is the same company recently under contract with ICE. Groves says, like any other outside agency, ICE can't just take Salinas' data.  "The federal government can't just come in and say 'I want Salinas' info' without the permission of the Chief of Police.

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