The Delano Police Chief asked at Monday’s city council meeting to indefinitely table a request for the purchase of a surveillance technology that allows law enforcement to access private information about community members.
“I’ve been reminded that there are many in our community that are fearful this technology would just add to that fear,” said Police Chief Robert Nevarez at Monday’s meeting. “Because of all of those reasons, I am not going to be continuing to pursue the implementation of (Automated License Plate Readers) at this time.”
Nevarez said he is abandoning the idea for now, unless a clear need for the technology arises in the future.
“I want to make sure that I am clear,’ Nevarez said. “I do believe that there are many benefits that can be obtained through Vigilant Solutions. After going through the training, they had a lot of examples of suspects that have been identified and leads that have been provided.”
Automated License Plate Readers, which allow police to read license plates and obtain information about the vehicle and the owner of the vehicle, could help solve crime, Nevarez has said in previous meetings; however, many Delano residents said they fear their private information could be released to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, affecting the undocumented population in Delano.
Nevarez recently met with Vigilant Solutions, the company that provides ALPR services, and it was unable to guarantee that a federal agency would not access Delano’s collected information, “which is a significant issue for our immigrant community,” Councilman Bryan Osorio wrote on Facebook.
Nevarez was going to use a $17,000 federal grant to pay for the ALPR surveillance technology. The money, specifically allocated for law enforcement, must be spent by October, according to Osorio.
Instead of purchasing the ALPR technology, Nevarez is now considering using the grant to purchase a program that would allow officers to obtain a search warrant for a phone.
“The device allows us to download data from the phone,” Nevarez said.
Although Nevarez was direct on his decision to not move forward with the ALPRs, some community members remain cautious.
“Thank you for not going forward with ALPRs for now,” said Delano resident Angelica Rodriguez. “You mentioned that at the moment you’re not going to (purchase the technology), but in the future, if you decided to, will you let the community know? Because last time, we only found out about (ALPRs) because it got pulled from the agenda.”
Veronica Vasquez, democratic delegate for assembly district 32, asked the chief to provide informational packets to the community if he were to consider the technology in the future.
Osorio said, “I thanked the chief for doing his due diligence in changing his mind on this issue.”
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