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Stanton officials are set to buy more surveillance gear allowing police to read the license plates of all cars coming in and out of the city’s major roadways.

Up for approval at Tuesday’s City Council meeting is the purchase of 26 automatic license plate reading cameras — technology that’s becoming increasingly common for law enforcement agencies across the country. 

The proposal for the new cameras comes after the city bought 10 such cameras already last year. Due to what city officials say was their success, an additional 26 cameras could “virtually gate” the city on all major streets. 

It would cost more than $100,000 annually to pay for all the cameras’ data storage and operation, paid for by a city fund that raises money through law enforcement grants. 

The cameras can read the license plates of cars driving the streets in real-time, take hundreds of images a minute, and capture a license plate of a vehicle traveling more than 100 miles per hour, according to city staff. 

The cameras, through their special technology, send images of license plates to a cloud-based server with a database of information on all registered motor vehicles, according to city staff in a report for today’s meeting.

If the license plate number is tied to an Amber Alert, a stolen vehicle or an “other law enforcement tag,” staff say the server “will notify the dispatch unit and status of the alert.” 

Such technology is used to complement law enforcement activities and “enhance public safety and security in public areas” — something of a “force multiplier” for departments with limited resources, staff say. 

Today’s proposal also comes in the wake of a series of protests across the U.S. — and in Orange County — protesting police brutality and law enforcement’s priority in public spending budgets. 

It also comes amid concerns over local police surveillance, and whether such surveillance can be abused by law enforcement agencies. This month, state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced a proposed bill that seeks to prevent the misuse of such technology by police departments. 

Click here for more information on how to access the Stanton City Council meeting remotely. 

Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member at Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at bpho@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @photherecord.

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