Wednesday, April 27, 2022

LPR's (License Plate Readers) did you know we've had them since 2010

 In last night's CC meeting, Chief Baker upon request of the council the previous week, gave a power point presentation of the LPR’s request the FPD put out for bid. You can see it at 16:20 to 1:09:05

http://207.172.210.8:5002/CablecastPublicSite/show/2553?channel=1

The background material can be found here: 2022-04-26 (framinghamma.gov)

I never knew FPD has LPR's mounted on cruisers since 2010. I was involved with government in 2010 as I recall and the subject never came up as I remember. It was news to the entire council. I understand we have 12 LPR cameras that have never worked according to the Chief. The data collected is more than the cops wanted, like expired inspection stickers they say. I would question what other data was collected at the time.

So FPD decided a while back to do a trail run with 2 of these pole mounted LPR's for 90 days from a company called Flock Cameras. https://www.flocksafety.com

Just so everyone understands this technology, you drive anywhere that has a LPR watching traffic go by, every license plate is captured and stored for as long as 30 days on the company’s cloud server and compared to a "Hot List" of license plates connected to a crime. The FPD would be notified and make an arrest. How and who make up the "Hot List” is still unanswered. After 30 days, all those saved scanned plates would be removed unless they are connected to a crime.

The Flock camera program relies on self-policing in the police department. I heard that just command staff and detectives could access the data but would have to log in and give a reason for a license plate search.

The costs I heard was around 20K a year for each camera. I was under the impression that only two cameras were being purchased.

From the web site: The Flock Safety Falcon camera is $2,500 per camera per year, with a one-time $350 installation cost. This price includes everything — installation, maintenance, footage hosting, cellular service, and software updates. The Sparrow camera (a lighter and smaller version of our Falcon camera) costs slightly less with the same basic subscription model.

Flock technology is built for limited, responsible monitoring by the appropriate actors after adverse events, not for 24/7 surveillance.

 The above is a very interesting statement by the company. 

And it was very clear last night, that FPD needs no approval from the council to be anything they want as long as they use trust fund money. 

18 Comments:

At May 1, 2022 at 4:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So where did the money come from to pay for the original cameras and why weren't residents of Framingham told these even existed?

 
At May 1, 2022 at 7:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don’t get this. Are you saying the police had these cameras up for 10 years without telling residents or elected officials they did this? How can that happen?

 
At May 1, 2022 at 8:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Police never willing share the tricks they use to find reasons to stop innocent people. Isn’t that exactly what this is an example of?

 
At May 2, 2022 at 11:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure I understand what the good is in this program. If some care went by a camera in Framingham 3 weeks ago and is now wanted for a crime, how does where that car was 3 weeks ago help to apprehend anyone?

 
At May 2, 2022 at 12:37 PM , Blogger jim pillsbury said...

Any plate passing by the camera is captured and saved for 30 days. If a plate matches someone on the "hot list", FPD is notified and then they may be able to track down that driver.
At last weeks council meeting the Chief explained that the policy for the use of LPR's was updated to reflect the concerns that most people have about privacy. AS of this writing, the council has not received the updated policy. For that matter, not the old policy as either.

To my knowledge, no one knew (even the council) we had LPR's since 2010. Since we know now that FPD can buy anything they want using forfeiture funds without oversight or telling anyone, I'm not at all surprised they bought the LPR's that didn't work from the beginning.

I'm not sure, but my gut tells me FPD used forfeiture money to buy them in 2010.

Many things about this just don't feel right.

 
At May 2, 2022 at 12:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. If is walks like a duck and talks like a duck it is a duck, and in this case the secrecy of the process tells me this is quite the duck. Thanks for sharing this info I would not have without this blog. Anything we can do to express our concern over this process?

 
At May 2, 2022 at 2:50 PM , Blogger jim pillsbury said...

The CC is powerless when it involves forfeiture money it appears. As we know now, FPD can buy anything it wants (without any oversight) as long as it doesn't come out of the cities budget. Mike, Adam and George were the only council member's to ask relevant questions. They are still waiting, as I am, to view the updated LPR policy. Something tells me FPD didn't have an updated policy or they would have shared it with the council members by now. The council and it's chair are afraid to ask FPD anything as you will see during the upcoming budget hearings. I'm not sure Police and Fire will even have to make a presentation to the council. There's talk amongst FinCom to not have to see every division presentation.... how terrible is that?

 
At May 2, 2022 at 3:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we know how much money the actually have in this forfeiture fund? I watched the recording of the city council meeting after reading this blog post and I think I heard Chief Baker say they did not want to ask the city for money for this in the police budget because they would then have to ask every year and who knows if the city can afford that. But doesn't that beg the question how will they pay for it every year out of this trust fund they talk about. Does anyone, anywhere have any oversite on how the police spend this money? And are they required to hold this for any specific length of time, say until the person they took it from has finished their trial and appeals process? Or is it the case that once the police confiscate this money and mark it as forfeiture funds then it is theirs to do with as they please?

 
At May 2, 2022 at 5:41 PM , Blogger jim pillsbury said...

Last week i filed a FOIA request# 2022-0808 asking how much is in the fund available for spending now and how much is in the not adjudicated yet account. Keep in mind, last year the CC approved a long term joint (Natick and Marlboro) lease agreement for office space (not in Framingham) for the drug task force.

Many times in the past, cars, trucks, homes, boats, jewellery, motor cycles and money are confiscated at the time of a drug bust and the assets are mysteriously held by the government somewhere. But all that cash that is taken, who, where, how and when and under who's authority is processed and stored? Just remember back a few years when a high ranking police officer was taking forfeiture money stored in the evidence locker at FPD Headquarters.

And many of you may remember back in the Chief Carl days when FPD bought that command center on wheels and sold it for half what they paid for it a few years later.

I hope the CFO's office gives me the numbers I asked for.

 
At May 2, 2022 at 8:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched this meeting. Thanks for letting us know about this Jim. How do we make sure going forward that the FPD needs to inform not just the mayor but residents about what they are doing?

 
At May 3, 2022 at 9:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the former Selectmen get notified when these old readers were installed on police cruisers? Stefaninni said at the meeting that you could see lots of these all over the city, but I heard the Chief say the old ones were not on poles but mounted only on cruisers, so what was Stefannini referring to?

 
At May 3, 2022 at 9:45 AM , Blogger jim pillsbury said...

John being John.. he knows everything and like the majority of the council they don't pay attention to the details. I've never seen a LPR on a cruiser, maybe some of our readers have seen them in the past.

The Mayor was a past selectman and if he knew about them, I would have thought he would have said so at the meeting.
Unless by accident a RFP is noticed in the newspaper may be the only way to know what FPD is buying. And at budget time, capital and small cap purchases are there for the council to review.

But please note, at that meeting the Chief did say FPD had updated the LPR policy recently and would send it to the council. As of today, Adam and Mike have not received it. My guess is, FPD never updated anything and are scrambling to send out something.

I'm going to ask the COO is he has seen or has access to the old LPR policy if there is one.

 
At May 3, 2022 at 10:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What recourse does the council have if the Chief does not share that policy with them?

 
At May 3, 2022 at 10:39 AM , Blogger jim pillsbury said...

Not sure the council has any authority over them, other than the budget. FPD reports to the COO I believe. Chances of Mike Cannon storming the Mayor's office demanding answers like he did with Spicer is unlikely.

 
At May 3, 2022 at 4:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe someone should call Cannon on this change in behavior. The man has an established pattern of attacking the sitting executive officer, that being the mayor. What happened? I suspect he hasn't the guts to stand up to a man, but every women is fair game for his ridiculous, disrespectful behavior

 
At May 3, 2022 at 4:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

https://patch.com/massachusetts/framingham/complaints-framingham-councilor-preceded-hot-mic-incident

How many of these employees were women?

 
At May 3, 2022 at 5:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cannon won't like the cameras since it might log the locations of his car :)

 
At May 4, 2022 at 2:54 PM , Blogger jim pillsbury said...

It's been over a week since the Chief said he would send the counsel the updated LPR policy. Both Adam and Mike allegedly asked him in an e-mail reminder.
It does look suspicious to me. If he had it, he would have sent it then and not waited this long.

I forgot all about Cannon's behavior. It is interesting to see how he acts around the male white mayor and mostly white male administration. He was overly polite to Louise Miller the new CFO thankfully.

 

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