By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilmen Johnny Khamis and Raul Peralez proposed installing license plate readers on garbage trucks. If there is one thing apparently that is important to the collection of your trash and rubbish it is reading every license plate in the neighborhood it seems. The city officials believe it will make a strong dent in the number of stolen and wanted vehicles left out in the street around garbage day.
The proposal involves installation of the readers and feeding the license data to the central computer system that serves the police department’s LPRs installed on patrol cars. It promises to be a monumentally cost inefficient system despite what city officials might claim. The civil liberties implications notwithstanding.
Psst, car thieves of California: be sure to take in your stolen car when you take out the trash.
We featured an article HERE describing this type of system of license plate readers.
Reportedly, the cost of fitting a police vehicle with the license plate reading system is about $34,200.00. While it is unknown if this type of cost will be applied to a garbage truck owned by a private corporation, it certainly describes well the amount of money involved.
In our sister article the Oakland Police Department reported approximately .16% of all license plates read resulted in a hit on a wanted vehicle. Yet, the city here spends over thirty four thousand per vehicle to read these plates. Now, there is this proposal to equip a number of garbage trucks. Why is this a poor cost benefit?
First, San Jose is the tenth largest city in the United States. The number of garbage trucks that would be required to read each neighborhood, a goal of these city officials, is likely to be in the hundreds. To make such a system effective would require each truck on duty to carry a reader or, alternatively, have few trucks that are rotated. The advantage of the former would be a quicker turn around time for reads of neighborhoods, that is once per week. The disadvantage is certainly cost. In the latter scenario having few trucks that are rotated makes the probability of finding stolen vehicles nearly consistent with mere chance and luck.
The best element of assessing cost/benefit would be to estimate the cost of the system per vehicle recovered. Few would agree that if the cost per recovery was a few thousand dollars, it would not merit such expense but it could easily be the case.
Additionally, if the wanted vehicle discovered is moving, the data is of almost no value to the police because, frankly, garbage trucks generally do not pull over stolen vehicles. The police are not going to be around when the hits occur unlike a police vehicle mounted system where they obviously will.
Privacy issues aside, this is not a reasonable use of the city’s money–especially when the department is reportedly reducing its staffing levels.
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.