License Plate Cameras

LA Cops' Claim That All Cars Are Under Investigation Challenged in License Plate Camera Tussle


Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department refused to release data about what license plates police cameras had captured on the grounds that every single car seen is under investigation. All of them. And a judge bought that argument.

Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU of Southern California are looking to the California Court of Appeal for a dose of sanity (yes, that strikes me as a Hail Mary pass, too) and a ruling that the public has a right to know how many people's movements are being monitored by the police, whether deliberately or through incidental data gathering.

That information can hit the creepy level very quickly, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune discovered two years ago. After press inquiries, the police revealed a list of dates and places a reporter's car had been, and even the routes followed by the city's mayor.

I'm guessing it was that second point that spurred Minnesota legislation to limit access to license plate data, as well as how long it can be held.

Boston police stopped using license plate scanners entirely after they inadvertently data-dumped tracking information on 68,000 vehicles to the Boston Globe. The incident revealed that the cops weren't actually putting the data to good use (they kept recording the same stolen vehicles without following up) and were perhaps less than ideal stewards of sensitive material.

Who knows? Maybe LA cops are better than their colleagues elsewhere at using and protecting the information they gather on people's movements.


Patrick Hannaford noted yesterday that some police departments are getting squirrelly about revealing what license plate data they've gathered.

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  1. …and even the routes followed by the city’s mayor.

    Big mistake.

    1. Yep, spy on thousands of peasant: *yawn*

      Spy on the mayor: “OMG!!!!1!!!! PRIVACY!!!1!!!!!!”

      Some animals are more equal than others.

      1. Paging Dianne Feinstein to the white courtesy phone…

        1. No need to page her. With tracking, the government knows exactly where she is and where she has been.

    2. Hah! You wish. The LAPD is way way more powerful than the mayor. Hizzoner can’t wipe his ass without the city council’s approval.

  2. This would seem to point to the only way I have encountered to defeat the State’s prurient interest in watching everybody; multiply the surveillance systems so fast that the State is drowned in data, and can’t make use of it.

    Wish I thought it would work in the long term.

    1. It will be interesting when they get enough computing capacity not only to analyze the data they are collecting in real time, but to work back analyzing the data that they’ve been storing for years and years.

      1. It will be less interesting when they can’t access the data that they’ve been storing for years and years because the storage medium has deteriorated.

    2. The state will always be able to make specious use of it.

  3. . . . on the grounds that every single car seen is under investigation.

    This might work out in our favor. Since your not supposed to be under investigation without some probable cause and the police are using this ability to ignore PC – there’s a decent argument that they’ve *already* shown they can’t be trusted with this capability.

  4. Well, Mister Two-seal, if that really is your name, if you’re innocent you should have no trouble proving it.

    1. Since you have all the data, you already know I’m innocent and just want to scare me into copping a plea for a large fine.

    2. “Too-chilly”. His dad also wrote about libertarianisms.

  5. Goddam foreigners, coming over here and sneaking into our country and wearing out our roads…

  6. they kept recording the same stolen vehicles without following up

    Since when did cops give a shit about crimes with victims?

    1. If they recover a stolen car, they don’t even get to keep it! They have to give it back to the rightful owner! I mean, you don’t expect them to spend too much time on that, do you?

      1. Yup. When crime A means the cops get to steal stuff and crime B does not, which one will they follow up on and which one will they ignore?

        1. Something something something the wolf you feed.

      2. Not true.

        I bought a truly cherry BMW M3 for what my friend still owed on it (which wasn’t much because he used his rather substantial reenlistment bonus on the down payment) and it was stolen a little over a year later. JSO recovered the car, but because they had seized it during a drug bust they kept it to auction it.

        I was pretty pissed.

        It was a crying fucking shame that somebody scaled the fence of the impound lot and put 10 pounds of aluminum powder and iron oxide on the hood and ignited it. Apparently it burned all the way through the engine block and the asphalt below it. Crying. Fucking. Shame.

    2. Hey, car thieves might be dangerous. Pot heads and law abiding citizens OTOH, are usually pretty docile. Why do you hate our heroes in blue Sarcasmic?

    3. For real. A co-worker once had his car stolen. For the longest time, our heroes in blue couldn’t locate it except to bury it under a mountain of parking tickets, for which he was initially held liable.

      1. A coworker’s neighbor had her car burgled. All her music was missing. She went to the cops who filled out report without any plans to look at it again. The woman then went to a neighborhood store that sold used disks, and what do you know. There was her music. She brought this to the attention of the police, and they openly mocked her for doing their job. Then they very reluctantly went to the store, got the paperwork from when the disks were purchased, and charged a neighborhood kid with theft. Very reluctantly.

        1. When I lived in a seedy part of DC (OK, seedier than many other parts of DC), my car was broken into multiple times. I never once bothered to call the cops. Never even considered it.

          1. This is a sleepy Maine town, not a big city.

            1. In sleepy Maine towns, the cops are so busy with vampire invasions, death dogs, possessed cars, etc. that they don’t have time for mundane crimes.

              1. +1 Cujo

          2. I once called Oakland PD to report my bike stolen. Once they stopped laughing, they suggested I look around local flea markets and buy it back.

            1. You got through to a live person at OPD? One percenter!

        2. And people wonder why I vote against every police levy that comes up on my ballot. As Heinlein (Lazarus Long) said, there may not be something to vote for, but there’s always something to vote against. When in doubt, vote against.

  7. Worse than incompetent cops are competent cops.

    By which I mean smart or cunning enough to get what they want.

    And there’s something peculiar about SoCal cops. There’s a joke I forgot that compared various law enforcement agencies. It included the FBI and CIA but the punch line had something to do with LA cops I believe. Anyone remember that?

    1. Somebody posted it the other day. The feds release a rabbit in the woods and task the FBI, CIA, and LAPD to find it.

      One of the agencies concludes rabbits don’t exist, but the punchline is that the LAPD brings a bear out of the woods screaming “OK, I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit!”

      1. The LAPD, the FBI, & the CIA are all trying to prove that they are the best at apprehending criminals. The President decides to give them a test. He releases a rabbit into a forest and each of them has to catch it.

        The CIA goes in. They place animal informants throughout the forest. They question all plant and mineral witnesses. After three months of extensive investigations they conclude that rabbits do not exist.

        The FBI goes in. After two weeks with no leads they burn the forest, killing everything in it, including the rabbit and they make no apologies. The rabbit had it coming.

        The LAPD goes in. They come out two hours later with a badly beaten bear. The bear is yelling, “Okay, okay, I’m a rabbit, I’m a rabbit!”

        1. Ah, lol, yeah that’s it

        2. Seems to me that burning down the forest is what the BATF would do. The FBI would be the ones with the informants.

          CIA would hear a rumor of a rabbit and tell the congress that we’re about to be buried in rabbits unless they got to kidnap and torture every squirrel they can find.


    2. In San Jose, 200 cops are threatening to quit if their candidate for mayor loses the election.

      I say quit now and avoid the rush. Isn’t this blackmail? How can this not be a crime? It’s identical to the two thugs who stood outside the polling place in Philadelphia with clubs threatening to beat up anyone who didn’t vote for Obama.

  8. Speaking of the police, I wrote a rebuttal to the cop fluffer in my local paper. We’ll see if they have the guts to publish it:


    1. Letters to the editor are like H&R comments: more than 3 sentences and it gets ignored.

    2. Nationwide, the police kill over 5,000 dogs a year, …

      Do you have a cite for this? That goes from nut punch to Lorena Bobbitt territory.

      1. I believe it with the news reports you see daily.

        Now we have to start tracking how many preggos get pulled over and tased or handcuffed.

  9. All of them. And a judge bought that argument.

    And now precedent is set for the complete obliteration of “probable cause”.

    1. If they’re looking for a stolen grey 2014 Mercedes, they have to investigate your red 1992 F150 (and every single other vehicle in the world) in order to make sure it’s not the car they’re looking for. Same way when they start looking for an eighty-five year old one-legged black midget who’s wanted for rape, they’ll have to stop every lanky and attractive 20-year old blonde co-ed they see strolling down the street to make sure she’s not the man they’re looking for.

      1. Or when they are looking for a black man who shot a cop, they need to open up on a short Asian woman just to make sure.

        Officer safety.

  10. I’m guessing thousands of cops wives have been tracked, among other abuses. Eventually it will come to light.

  11. OT Obama’s credit card denied at New York restaurant.…..york-trip/

    Didn’t his staff tell him he maxed out the race card during the 2012 election?

    1. How in the blue fuck is he paying for his own meals? Doesn’t he have a staffer to do those things for him? Of course, if they had a staff that could plan ahead, they could [insert your own example here.] My own observation is about the time Obama decided to campaign in Austin. Someone on his staff grew a brain, and they decided to get takeout from Franklin BBQ. But they didn’t feel like waiting for the 3-4 hour wait. (No, really. It’s that fucking long. And once the meat’s all gone, it’s gone for that day.) Nor did they feel like having a staffer/SS guy do it. So, naturally, he rolled up, cut to the head of the line, and cleaned them out of either turkey breast or sausage, I forget.

      It being Austin, the crowd was disappointed that Obama didn’t whip it out and piss all over them too. But, when I told the story to someone in Houston, the guy replied, “Someone should have yelled, “Bet you wouldn’t try that shit in Dallas!”

      I died.

  12. I have to hand it to Jude Law for his taste in women. How exactly it is he can’t figure out how to wear a condom or just get a vasectomy is a bit of a mystery. He is like the white Antonio Rodgers Cromartie.…..-home.html

    1. “Jude was previously engaged to Sienna Miller, but they split after his affair with his children’s nanny.”

      Or christ, I don’t know maybe stop trying fuck everything around you with two legs might be a start too. You have a super model sleeping with you but it’s not enough so you have to go tag her nanny too?

      Jesus man, get it together.

      1. You are married to Sienna fucking Miller and you decide it is a good idea to bang the half way cute but kind of dumpy nanny.

        I really have no idea what to say to that. Tomcats have more self control than that.

        1. I Googled her. Jesus, unless she was not putting out at all, you’re absolutely right.

          1. He had a couple of kids with her. So clearly she put out some.

          2. Maybe they were both putting out…

      2. That’s JFK-level lack of self-control.

        1. At least JFK was banging Marilyn.

          Clinton’s a better example of lack of self-control, and taste.

          1. Marilyn was a batshit crazy drug addict.

            Come to think of it, so was JFK..


    2. 5 kids by 3 different women. Wow.

      Reminds me of local basketball star (and accused, but not guilty of incest) Calvin Murphy. Who had 14 kids by 9 different women. To which a local radio host quipped, “Your kids should be able to be described like a piece of dimensional lumber. You know, like 2 by 1, 4 x 2, etc… Not like a room in your house.”

  13. . And a judge bought that argument.

    Of course he did.

  14. Want to stop this cold? Have border patrol supeona the data store and use it to look for illegals. It won’t happen of course, but it if did, the parties involved would shut it down pronto. Just sayin’….

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